What is Grewia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Grewia is a widely distributed genus of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees. Some individual species have historically been used for medicinal purposes, as well as the production of food. Species like G. occidentalis are cultivated as ornamental plants in various regions of the world. Nurseries and garden catalogs sometimes make commercially cultivated species available and people can also propagate these plants from seeds and cuttings if they know gardeners who are willing to make trades.

This genus belongs to the mallow family. Grewia can be found native in parts of Africa, India, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The plants tend to prefer tropical to subtropical regions, depending on the species, and some species are endangered as a result of habitat loss. Many islands in the Indian Ocean contain an array of unusual plant species, including members of this genus, that are under threat from development, invasive introduced species, and other human activities.

Members of this genus produce flowers in an array of colors including white, purple, and yellow. They usually have broad, flat leaves with mildly serrated edges. Some species are deciduous, while others are evergreen, and Grewia is typically a perennial. People growing some species in cool climates may treat them as annuals, allowing the plants to die off in the fall and replanting in the spring.


Grewia species are rapid growers preferring rich, well-drained soil and full sun to part shade. Mulching to protect the roots is advised in cooler climates and gardeners should stay alert for signs of insect and slug infestation. Some species are appealing to birds and butterflies and can be a good choice for a garden designed to attract animal visitors. Species producing edible fruits can be cultivated for culinary, as well as ornamental, uses.

Some Grewia species may have bark, flowers, leaves, or roots with medicinal properties. Indigenous people in some regions of the range of this genus harvest and use the medicinal components of various species for a variety of purposes. Products made from these plants are sometimes available commercially at health food stores and stores that carry indigenous products.

A number of named cultivars of specific species have been developed. These cultivars have been bred to bring out traits of interest and are commercially available, in addition to being traded by gardeners. Some are proprietary cultivars with registered protections designed to prevent them from being propagated or sold by people other than the original breeder.



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