(Dovyalis abysinnica)

Fruits and leaves of Abyssinian gooseberry

Synonym: Aberia abyssinnica, Dovyalis engleri

Local name(s) Aihada, ankakute, koshim, ongolatz.

Abyssinian gooseberry is a small spiny tree native and common in forests of East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda) at elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 ft (1,800-2,400 m).  It bears maroon-purple fruit with acid pulp tasking like gooseberries.  The fruits are eaten by local people.  These are, however, not sold in the markets.


An evergreen spiny shrub or tree, upto 8 m tall and with a rounded crown; bark grey with spines up to 4cm long; branchlets with very clear dotted breathing pores (lenticles); leaves shiny,  dark green, oval to 5cm diameter with a blunt tip and unevenly rounded edge; the flowers are green sepals. Female flowers are single but the male flowers are in clusters with many stamens.

Fruits are round berries, 2 cm in diameter, surrounded by the calyx, green and hairy at first and then smooth orange-yellow flesh around the seeds.

Fruits are edible having a sweet sour taste. These are collected and eaten raw. In normal times mostly children enjoy the sweet-sour taste with a tingling sensation on the teeth of the fruits. In food shortage periods, everybody is consuming the fruit when available. Fruits are said to be excellent for making jam and for souring porridge.


Abyssinian gooseberry grows in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia Tanzania and Malawi. In Ethiopia,  the species is usually found along river courses in humid lower highland forests of moist and wet Mimusops forest in moist and wet midland (1,600 – 2,200m).


This plant is multiplied by seed.

Other uses:

The plant is sometimes used for fencing and as fodder for goats and sheep.

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