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Phalsa (Grewia subinequallis DC, Tiliaceae)

Phalsa

Phalsa is an exotic bush and usually 10 to 15 feet tall. It is native of southern Asia. Phalsa is a rare plant but easy to grow in Phoenix. It requires hot summer for fruits to ripe. It can stand light frosts which causes only shedding of leave. The plant is deciduous in the areas with mild winter season like Phoenix. The phalsa is not particular regarding soil, but it is more productive on rich soil and responds to manuring. Falsa plants are drought tolerant. No special care is needed when the plant is established. The berries it produces need to be protected from birds. Pruning is a very important operation in growing falsa.

Soil

Phalsa are not very picky about soil, just be sure to avoid overly alkaline or acidic soil. They can grow in soil with pH between 4 and 7, but for the best results, the soil should be slightly acidic in the range of 6.0 to 6.5.Currants don’t like saline soils or those with poor drainage. So, the best soil is the one with plenty of organic matter which improves the drainage and feeds the plants.

Plant care

There is no special care needed. Phalsa plants can take the Phoenix hot sun very well. In addition, it tolerates frost very well in Phoenix.

Irrigation

Plant is drought tolerant. In order to get good crop it requires wat ering regularly during summer months. As with all the fruits trees, irrigate them 7-14 days during growing season and every 4 to 6 weeks during the winter.

Fertilizer

Remember that more manure is needed for Phalsa than red currants. Fertilizers should be added while preparing the soil for planting the young plants and for established plants, in the late autumn and/or late winter. Depending on the soil type, acidity, drainage, amount of rain fall etc. one has to add compost/humus, aged manure, even some sand and some balanced NPK fertilizer, preferably with gradual release of nutrients.


Note that larger doses of nitrogen can promote strong growth of plants, but the plants are weak and prone to physical damage and diseases. Also note that fertilizers with potassium chloride (or other chlorides) should be avoided.

Pruning

Phalsa Pruned Trees

Flowers are formed only on current year shoots .Pruning is necessary for a good crop.

Diseases

Following are diseases that can commonly occur in currants.

Currant Rust:

Currant Rust

This is a fungus that occurs in summer in the form of yellow spots turning red-orange. These are actually the fungal spores. Plant is weakened due to this disease and leaf malformation takes place. Apply a fungicide as soon as you see initial symptoms.

Currant Anthracnose:

Currant Anthracnose

Brown spots appear on leaves in this disease. They spread fast and cover entire plant upon which leaves fall and plant dies. It occurs usually in hot and dry weather. A suitable fungicide should be used immediately.

Powdery Mildew:

Powdery Mildew

As the name suggests it takes place in the form of a powdery patina on leaves and is actually a fungus. It causes deformation of buds, twisting of leaves and elimination of flowering. Because of this, the plant is weakened and ultimately dies. To avoid this disease, spray plants with a fungicide and avoid overhead watering. Applying two treatments, one in winter and other in early spring, can also help. Also affected parts should be cut and disposed of so as to avoid spread of the disease to healthy plants.

Pests

Pests that commonly affect currants are aphids, red spiders, caterpillars, coleoptera and birds. Especially birds are major nuisance for currants and to prevent them from eating fruits, plants should be covered with nets. Other objects like scarecrows, tapes or CDs, hanging pots etc can be used too.

Harvest

Depending on the cultivars and growing positions, currants are harvested in June, July and August. If you want to enjoy ripe fruits straight from plants, it’s best to let them stay on the plant for around three weeks after they get color – picking the currants at the right moment is sometimes like picking the watermelons – you never know what you have until you try it. Moisture should be avoided while collecting the fruits, since moist fruits lose quality faster. Fruits can be stored for around a week or two in refrigerator. Perhaps it’s better to prepare a jam from the currants, either only of currants or in combination with other fruits, for example, a few apple pieces can be added to the jam to reduce tartness and increase thickness.

Medicinal uses of Falsa

Falsa Fruits are very high in antioxidant. It helps in preventing heart diseases and cancer.In folk medicine of southern Asia, Phalsa fruit are used to treat stomach ache. The leaves are used to cure skin diseases.

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