Phyllanthus acidus
Common Name: Tahitian gooseberry tree 
Type: Fruit
Family: Phyllanthaceae
Native Range: Asia, Caribbean, Central and South America
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Light pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Drought


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining soils in full sun. Hardy in Zones 10 and above. Easily grown from seed, but can also be propagated by vegetative cuttings or air layering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phyllanthus acidus, commonly called Tahitian gooseberry tree or Otaheite gooseberry, is a small deciduous tree found in moist tropical and subtropical coastal woodlands and disturbed sites. Evidence suggests this species originated in Madagascar but has been cultivated for thousands of years and is now found throughout the tropics and subtropics. Mature trees will reach up to 30' tall with a 20' wide, densely-branched, spreading canopy. The ovate to lanceolate leaves (up to 3" long) have a blue-green bloom on their lower surfaces and are oppositely arranged on terminal clusters of branchlets (up to 12" long). Both the leaves and branchlets are deciduous. Clusters of small, light pink flowers are held in panicles (up to 5" long) that hang directly from the main branches. The edible fruits (up to 1" in diameter) are creamy-white to light yellow-green in color with firm, sour flesh surrounding a hard center stone.

Genus name comes from the Greek words phyllon meaning "leaf", and anthos meaning "flower", as in some species the flowers are produced on the edges of a leaf-like branch.

The specific epithet acidus means "acidic", in reference to the sharp acidity of the fruits.

The common name gooseberry refers to the acidity of the fruits, which is similar to European gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa).


The foliage is a favorite food source for snowbush spanworms, also known as Breynia caterpillars.


This tree is most often planted for the showy, edible fruit. The fruit can be candied or pickled and eaten raw, or cooked down to make jam or chutney.