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“Phalsa” – A High value underutilised minor fruit


Phalsa (Grewia asiatica L.) also known as “Star apple”, is a subtropical fruit native to India, belongs to family Tiliaceae. This family has about 41 genera and 400 species, which are mostly distributed in the tropical and sub-tropical region of the world. It is commercially grown in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar. Its cultivation is favoured around big cities where fruits find a read and quick sale.

Regarding keeping quality, it is highly perishable in nature. It may be grown as an intercrop with Mango, Aonla, Bael and Ber. Phalsa is a bushy plant and can be grown in the kitchen garden also. Phalsa is a good crop for arid and semi-arid regions because of its hardy nature and capacity to tolerate high temperature and even grown under a prolonged dry spell with little care. It is bushy in nature and bears small berry-like fruit of deep reddish-brown colour.

As being subtropical fruits its flowers in the month February and the fruit ripen by the end of April and continue till mid of June. Phalsa is ‘deciduous’ inhabit in northern India and sheds its leaves during the winter season, which makes it capable of withstanding in the frost Condition Phalsa produces fruits in clusters in the axils of leaves of the young shoots. It is one of the hardiest fruit crops with regard to the attack of insect pest and diseases. Phalsa can tolerate up to 440C high temperature which favours in the ripening of the fruits.

Phalsa start fruiting after the second year of its plantation and thus the growers can obtain much income returns. Ripe fruits are sub acidic and a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C they are also a fair source of phosphorus and iron. Fruits contain 50-60% juice 10-11% sugar and 202.5% acid.The fruits are used for making excellent juice and squash, it is also used as table fruit for children.

Origin and Distribution

Phalsa is native to India.it is grown on about 300 hectares in India. which are mostly distributed in the tropical and sub-tropical region of the world. It is commercially grown in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar. Its cultivation is favoured around big cities where fruits find a read and quick sale. Regarding keeping quality, it is highly perishable in nature. It may be grown as an intercrop with Mango, Aonla, Bael and Ber.

Botanical Description

The genus Grewia has about 140 species, out of which about 40 occur in India. One of the most important plants of this genus which yield edible fruit is phalsa(Grewia asiatica).it is belongs to The family Tiliaceae. And chromosome no.2n=18.This family has about 41 genera and 400 species.

The phalsa is a delicious bush and when unpruned can grow into a tree up to 10 meters or more with a trunk nearly 30 cm in diameter.leaves are 7.5-15 cm long, dull green colour.the leave venation is reticulate, multistate and divergent.petioles 1.5 to 2 cm long.there are 2-7 peduncles and a peduncle has 3-6 pedicellate yellow flower in Auxillary cluster.

Generally, the flower is hermaphrodite. A normal flower has 4-5 sepal, 4-5 petal, 70-8- free stamens and fully developed gynoecium. The phalsa fruit is a drupe, globose in shape and pea-sized it is red or purple, is indistinctly lobed and has 1-2 seed in it.

Chemical Composition

Phalsa contain Delphinidin-3-glucoside and cyaniding-3-glucoside from the peel of ripe phalsa fruits. The air-dried phalsa seed contains 7.2 % oil, rich in linoleic acid (51.7 % w/w) and also contains small amounts of palmitoleic, heptadecanoic, linolenic and arachidic acids. Dhawan et al. (1993) revealed the presence of sucrose and fructose in both tall and dwarf types, whereas glucose was present only in the fruits of tall type.

Medicinal properties

According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian treatise on medicine, the fruits are cooling, tonic and aphrodisiac, they allay thirst and burning sensation, remove biliousness, cure inflammation, heart and blood disorders and fevers. The fruit is also good against trouble. The bark is used as a demulcent. It cures urinary troubles and relieves burning in the vagina.

Medicinal Uses of Phalsa

Phalsa tree is mainly grown for its fruits. However, all parts of the phalsa tree have general as well as medicinal uses. An infusion of the bark is used to treat diarrhoea and relieve pain and in rheumatism. The bark relieves urinary troubles and relieves vaginal burning. The leaves relieve all types of inflammations of the skin like cuts, burning, boils, eczema.

Just make a paste of previously soaked leaves in water (soaked a night before). Apply this paste on the affected area. The leaves are antibiotic in action. In arthritic and rheumatic pains the root bark is used for relief. The oil produced from the seeds is used to treat reproductive disorders.

The fruit, leaves, bark, roots and root bark are all used for medicinal purposes, and in Ayurvedic medicine, it is also used as an aphrodisiac and a cooling tonic. The fruit peel has the highest antioxidant activity followed by the pulp and then the seeds. The fruits also offer radiation protection. The leaves also exhibit antioxidant activity.

Other Uses of Phalsa

The bark is used in the refining of sugar and for making ropes. The fresh leaves act as a fodder for cattle while they are also applied to pustular skin eruptions. The wood is used to make poles, archer bows, spear handles. The bark is used in the gur (brown sugar) making process to purify the sugar cane juice from which it is made; this is because the bark is mucilaginous. The leaves are used as cattle fodder. The branches are used to make baskets for transporting vegetables and fruits, as a fuel and the wood is used to make the archer's bow, spears, handles, poles etc.

Some Specific Uses of Phase

Stomach Pain - Roast 3 gms carom seeds. Add 25 to 30 ml phalsa juice. Stir and warm this a bit. Drink to relieve pain.

Burning Of Eyes, Urine, Chest, Stomach and Sour eructations - Drinking phalsa sherbet daily relieves.

Weak Heart - Take 50 ml phalsa juice. Add a pinch of rock salt and a pinch of black pepper powder. Mix well. Add powdered candy sugar or sugar to taste. Stir well. Drink for relief.

Weakness Of Stomach. Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach Pain - To phalsa juice add little rose water and sugar to taste. Drink daily.

Brain Weakness - Drink 50 ml of phalsa juice every day.

Respiratory Troubles, Cold Weather Troubles And Hiccups - Warm a little phalsa juice. Add a little ginger juice and rock salt. Drink. It removes accumulated phlegm and cures the above diseases.

Burning During Urination - Take 25 gms phalsa, 5 gms Amla powder, 10 gms black grapes and 10 gms dates. Grind all of them, except amla powder, coarsely. Soak all the ingredients in the water at night. The next morning add 20 gms sugar. Stir well. Strain the water. Divide this water into 2 equal parts. Take 1 part in the morning and 1 part in the evening. Take a diet of milk, clarified butter, fruits and sweet things. Stop all food that produces heat in the body. This will remove all burning sensations of the eyes, vaginal, anal, burning during urination or any other. It also cures excessive bleeding during menses. Keeps the brain cool.


Phalsa can be grown all over the country except at higher altitudes. It relishes distinct winter and summer for best growth, yield and quality. In regions having no winter, the plant doesn‘t shed leaves and produce flower more than once, thus yield poor quality fruits. Full-grown plants can tolerate freezing temperature for a short period. The plants can tolerate as high as 45OC-49OC. high temperature during fruit development favours ripening of fruit. At flowering time, clear weather is needed, whereas rains at the time affect fruit setting adversely.


Phalsa can be grown on a wide variety of soils even on moderately sodic soils. It grows well in well-drained loamy soils. The plant is sensitive to waterlogging, which makes it chlorotic. soils which have poor subsurface drainage and waterlogged should not be selected for commercial cultivation of Phalsa. The ideal soil for growing phalsa is the rich loamy type. soil pH should be 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) best for phalsa cultivation. It can also be successfully grown to earn inferior and marginal land.


Phalsa is commercially propagated through seeds. it is the easiest, common and simple method of propagation. But now a day it can also Propagation by cuttings (hardwood) and layers and simple layering is also possible with the help of growth regulators (IBA 2500 ppm –3,000 ppm).

Propagation through cuttings- the phalsa plant can also be multiplied through hardwood cutting. The cutting should be prepared from December to January and keep for callusing. The use root promoting hormones such as indole butyric acid@100PPm enhance the success of rooted cutting.

Nursery management- For raising the phalsa seedlings in a nursery bed large size purple-black colour fruit is collected when the crop is ready to harvest at the end of May month or beginning of June. After extracting the value-added product of phalsa like juice, nectar, squash, etc from the fruit the after the extracting the seed of phalsa should be washed and dried under shade. These seeds are sown in raised beds when it is sufficient humidity in the atmosphere. The rainy season (July- August) is the best time of showing of seed. The seed on raised beds is sown in lines which are 10-15 cm apart from each other in the rows. The seed should be sown 4-5cm apart and 1.5-2cm deep. The seeds should be covered with sand or light soil mixed with well-rooted and dry FYM.

Field Preparation

The land is prepared well before the plants are set in the field. Pits of size 50cm3 are dug and refilled with a mixture of topsoil and well rotten FYM in the ratio of 1:1. Eight to twelve months old seedlings are better for planting in the field. Phalsa plants should preferably transplant in the field during January-February before they start new growth. Phalsa plants can be planted at a distance of 1.5 to 2.0 m from plant to plant and 3.0 to 4.0m from row to row. Phalsa is well suited for close planting. Increase in plant density may increase the yield. The plants can be planted at 2x2m apart in square system accommodating 2500 plants per hectare.


The Phalsa plants are spaced at a various distance in different regions of India. 8 to 12-month-old seedling are better for planting in the field. The plant is spaced at 1.5 metres apart by which 4400 plants are accommodated in one hectare by the square system of planting. phalsa plant should preferably be transplanted in the field during January- February before the start new growth. The plant being dormant at the time, they can be lifted from nursery with ware roots.

Nutrient requirement or Manuring

Generally, phalsa is planted on comparatively poor soils. The fruits are borne on new growth; hence application of fertilizer definitely encourages vegetative growth. phalsa plants require about @ 10-15 tan of well rotten FYM, soon after planting. The higher yield of phalsa can be obtained by application of 100 Kg N, 40 Kg P205 and 25Kg K20, per hectare. Trials at Rajasthan agriculture university, Udaipur revealed that application of NPK@ 100, 40, 25 Kg per hectare gave higher yield.

Nitrogenous fertilizers should be applied preferably in two split doses one at the time of flowering and second after fruit setting @ 1 kg of CAN or Ammonium sulphate per bush is recommended. Zinc and iron were found to influence berry size and juiciness in phalsa. Therefore ZnS04 @ 0.4 % at problem stage and after berry set improved the juice content. Ferrous sulphate @0.4% along or in combination with Zn improved the berry size.

Water management

Phalsa is drought tolerant crop but irrigation is essential for higher yield of quality fruits. First irrigation is needed in February after application of fertilizers. Irrigation during summer (March-April) at 2-3 weeks interval is desirable. No irrigation may be applied during the rainy season and in dormancy stage. An adequate supply of irrigation water at regular intervals, especially during the flowering and fruiting period, is very essential for profitable yield.

Flowering and Fruiting (Blooming)

Flowering in phalsa starts from February-March and continues till May. The first flower to open is at the base. The flowers are borne in the axils of the leaves. The flower is mostly cross-pollinated and honey- bee seems to play a major role in pollination. the flower bud became plumpy before anthesis. The first sign of anthesis is the appearance of a slit in sepal at the base of the bud.the widens and at first, only one sepal falls apart. the dehiscence in phalsa before the flowers are completely open.

Training and Pruning

The Phalsa fruit is borne in clusters in the axil of leaves on the new growing shoots produced during the current season. Annual pruning is therefore very essential to have new vigorous shoots to ensure regular and heavy fruiting. Phalsa plant is allowed to develop as a bush; hence, no initial training is practised. Both severe and very light pruning affect the crop yield. The desirable height of pruning varies from 50-100cm from ground level. The best time for their pruning is during December-January when the plants have shed their leaves and in all cases, the operation should be finished well before the start of the new growth.

Insect Pests and Diseases

There are three insects and one disease attacking Phalsa crop.


Phalsa is free from serious pests. However, about 18 insect pests have been recorded feeding on phalsa. Out of these only three are of economic importance and are discussed below.

Mealybug (Drosicha Mangifera)

Mango mealybug has been reported to cause severe damage to phalsa by seriously affecting the fruit set. It can be controlled by spraying with 0.04% Diazinon or Monocrotophos.

Bark eating caterpillar (lnderbela tetraonis)

It is a polyphagous pest which damages the plant by making tunnels in the main branches or trunk. The affected plant part dries after some time, due to the girdling effect. It is usually found in neglected orchards. This pest can easily be controlled by injecting kerosene oil or petrol in the holes by plugging the mouth with mud. This operation can be performed once 10 a year at pruning tIme.

Leaf eating caterpillar (Euprdctis fraternal)

These caterpillars feed gregariously on leaf lamina and skeletonizing it completely. In case of severe infestation entire tree may be defoliated. To control, spray with Carbaryl and Endrin (0.1%).


Disease caused by fungus Cercospora is prominently found in Phalsa crop.

Leaf spot disease

It is a fungal disease caused by Cercospora grewiae. On affected leaves, tiny brown lesions appear on both sides of the leaves and cause premature leaf fall particularly during the rainy season. It can be controlled by spraying Dithane Z- 78 at 0.3% concentration or Blitox 0.2% concentration.

Harvesting and Yield

Phalsa fruits become fully mature in 55 days after the fruit set. The phalsa begin to bear fruits in the second year. A good commercial crop is usually obtained during the third year. In Punjab and Haryana, the harvesting season of phalsa fruit start by the end of May and lasts till the end of June and in South India it is March-April. The phalsa fruit should be picked when the colour has changed to deep reddish-brown and the pulp tastes sweet. several picking is necessary as all the fruit do not ripen at one time. The fruit picking is usually done on alternate days. Under optimum condition, a phalsa bush yields on an average about 3 – 5 kg of fruit.


If stored at room temperature 28OC -35OC must be consumed within 2 days, or else the fruit can be stored in shallow clamshell containers and placed inside the refrigerator which will help the life span to boost up. Phalsa fruits are highly perishable and, therefore, they should be utilized within 24 hours of harvesting. Thus immediate marketing is possible only when the orchards are located nearby some cities.

Post-harvest Management

Maturity is judged by colour. The ground colour which is green in the beginning should be turning red. Fruits should neither be under-ripe nor over-ripe. It should be firm at the time of ripening. Fruits for storage and transport should be harvested at colour turning stage, whereas for a local market they should be harvested at the red ripe stage. Fruits are individually picked by hand and collected in bamboo/pigeon pea/plant baskets cushioned with polythene sheet or newspaper cuttings.

Pre– packaging of fruit can be done for local sale. For this fruits can be pre-packaged in leaf cup and cover with perforated polythene bag for local sale. Handling of fruit during transport from market to home is easier and also causes damage as compared with conventional pre-packing in a green leaf. Storage life of fruits depends upon the stage of harvest. Fruits harvested at the turning stage can be stored for 2–3 days at room temperature and about 7 days in cold storage at 7°C. Fruits harvested at the red ripe stage can be stored only for a day, hence, they are marketed immediately in local markets. Fruits can be processed into quality beverages—ready-to-serve, nectar, squash and syrup.

Value-added product of phalsa

Post-harvest losses in phalsa are very high and it can be managed by value addition in fruits. Phalsa juice is very popular due to its pleasing flavour and deep crimson-red colour. In addition, due to the extremely refreshing quality of phalsa juice, it can be processed into ready-to-serve (RTS) and carbonated beverages. Syrup and squash can also be prepared with phalsa fruit juice after mixing with sugar and preserved with sodium benzoate. Procedures for preparation of different products are given below.


The economies of phalsa cultivation can from the scientific cultivation of total cost estimated amount Rs.1,05,000. And the average production of phalsa fruit is 20 quintals/ha. And the marker price of phalsa fruit is Rs.160/Kg. So that the farmer gains income in one hectare Rs.85,000/ha.

Jitendra, Deepak lal, Dr S. Saravanan

Department of Horticulture

Allahabad School of Agriculture

Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology & Sciences,

[Deemed To-Be University]

Allahabad (U.P.) India

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