Food Uses and Nutrition
Often eaten fresh, poha is made into jelly and jam as well as canned whole. In Europe it is dipped into chocolate or used to decorate cakes. The fruit is also used in a wide variety of sauces.
Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion
Moisture 78.9 g
Protein 0.054 g
Fat 0.16 g
Fiber 4.9 g
Ash 1.01 g
Calcium 8.0 mg
Phosphorus 55.3 mg
Iron 1.23 mg
Carotene 1.613 mg
Thiamine 0.101 mg
Riboflavin 0.032 mg
Niacin 1.73 mg
Ascorbic Acid 43.0 mg
Health Benefits- Poha is a source of phosphorus, that helps the body to process vitamins and aids in the conversion of food to energy. The primary benefit of phosphorus is the building of bones and teeth when balanced with calcium and magnesium. Poha also contains a cross section of different bioflavonoids (vitamin P), which help with anti inflammation and act as natural blood thinners.
Cape gooseberry, called poha in Hawaii, was distributed by early explorers and first reported in England in 1774. A commercial crop in many countries, the poha is often found in Hawaiian Regional Cuisine. First reported on the Big Island in 1825, the fruit is common in the wild as well as cultivated for home and commercial use around the state.
The plant is low growing shrub with velvety leaves and yellow bell-shaped flowers.
Mature fruit is round and orange skinned with many edible seeds. It is juicy and sweet with a distinctive flavor.
Poha is also known as golden berry in many English-speaking countries. In Australia, it is marketed under the cultivar names ‘Golden Nugget’ and ‘New Sugar Giant’. Growers in New Zealand often take cuttings from plants that produce the sweetest fruit for propagation.
Poha is commonly found at upper elevations on mountain slopes from 1000 to 4000 feet and reported occurring as high as 8000 feet. Plants at lower elevations usually produce smaller fruit. The shallow root system prefers well-drained soil. The plants are among the first to take root in newly cleared land and do will in relatively poor soils. Fertile soils favor vegetative growth over fruit production. The plant will become dormant during extended periods of drought unless irrigation is used. Harvesting is facilitated when plants are spaced 4 to 6 feet apart in rows and sometimes trellised or staked. Experiments in raised beds helped to minimize labor when harvesting.
Poha is tolerant of a wide variety of soils with pH between 5.0 to 6.5. Poha has a shallow root system, mulch and organic soil amendments help to retain water and nutrients. Plants at the 12 Trees Project were given 1/4-cup of 6-6-6 organic fertilizer every 4 months, placed around the drip line. Fruit ripening can take several months and harvesting generally occurs 60 to 100 days after flowering. Poha should be severely pruned after harvest and plants should be replaced after 3 to 4 years when fruit size and yield diminish.
Pests and Diseases
The Broad mite, Polyphagotarsonemus latus, feeds by puncturing the stem and sucking the sap from the wound. This will cause stunted growth, discolored leaves and deformed young foliage. Solanaceous treehopper; Antianthe expansa, thrips and various beetles can also affect the poha plant. Sooty mold; Asteridiella acervata, root-knot nematode; Meloidogyne sp., and bacterial wilt; Pseudomonas solanacearum, are among a number of pathogens that can also affect poha. In general good field sanitation, proper horticultural practices and an integrated pest management program can prevent crop damage.
Poha is usually started from seed but can be started from stem cuttings 6 to 8 inches in length. Use of a rooting hormone will induce rooting. Young seedlings are susceptible to high temperatures and it is advisable to plant them in the late afternoon or when cloudy. Seedlings should be kept moist and shaded.
Harvesting and Yield
Poha is harvested every few days when the husks are dry and turn to a straw color. It is often picked in the afternoon when there is little moisture. Many growers shake the bush so that the dry husks fall and are easily picked up from the ground. Plastic sheets are sometimes placed under the plants to catch the fallen fruit.
Plants at lower elevations, (300 feet to 700 feet), under irrigation, produce smaller fruit but in larger quantities, sometimes more than 1000 fruit per shrub. Higher elevations (700 feet to 3000 feet), with no irrigation produce an average of 300 larger sized fruit per shrub. Averages in South America are 3000 pounds of fruit per acre. Laborers produce 10 to 12 pounds of husked fruit per hour.