Dovyalis hebecarpa, the Kitembilla or Ketembilla, is a plant in the
genus Dovyalis, native to Sri Lanka and southern India.
It is a shrub or small tree growing to 6m tall, with sharp, 3–6
cm long stem spines in the leaf axils. The leaves are alternately
arranged, simple broad lanceolate, 5–10 cm long and 1–3 cm broad,
with an entire or finely toothed margin.
The flowers are inconspicuous, solitary or clustered, with no
petals. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate
plants, though some female plants are parthenogenetic.
The fruit is an edible dark purple globose berry 2–3 cm diameter,
very juicy with an acidic flavour, and containing several small
seeds. Kitembilla fruit, which taste similar to a gooseberry (they
are sometimes called "Ceylon Gooseberry"), are often eaten fresh,
or made into jam. Some cultivars have been selected for being thornless (making harvesting easier) and larger fruit.
Small fruit to 1" around with brown velvet skin and deep red
acidic pulp. Trees bear fruits in great quantities. The juicy fruit
is usually used in drinks and preserves.
Description: Small tree to 15-20ft. Fruiting occurs from spring
to early summer. In some areas tree will bear multiple crops
throughout the year.
Hardiness: Hardy to the upper 20's Fahrenheit.
Growing Environment: Grows very quickly under ideal conditions.
Plants will tolerate dry and wet soils, although lots of moisture is
necessary for proper fruit development.
Propagation: By seeds.
Uses: Consumed fresh, either as a flavoring for beverages, or in
preserves. Fruits can be eaten out of hand but are usually not for
the pulp is very acidic.
Native Range: Native to Sri Lanka. Today the ketembilla is
occasionally cultivated for juice making.