Some years back Mr. Small, best known on St. John for his work with honeybees brought over a slip of a gooseberry tree. This is the first year that the berries matured. On previous years the tree flowered, but as soon as it began to fruit the berries fell off. I believe the key here is that the tree needs a lot of water and where it’s plated here on the west coast of Chocolate Hole tends to be dry, but with all of this season’s rains the tree has fruited nicely.
The tree, a Malay Gooseberry, Phyllanthus acidus, is also called West India Gooseberry and in Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, grosella.
The Malay Gooseberry is thought to have first grown in Madagascar and then spread through the east Indies. It was brought to Jamaica in 1793 and now can be found throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Here on St. John it is mostly used to make jam. When the gooseberries are cooked up with sugar they turn a ruby-red.