The large flowering plant genus Grewia /ˈɡriə/ is today placed by most authors in the mallow family Malvaceae, in the expanded sense as proposed by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Formerly, Grewia was placed in either the family Tiliaceae or the Sparrmanniaceae. However, these were both not monophyletic with respect to other Malvales - as already indicated by the uncertainties surrounding placement of Grewia and similar genera - and have thus been merged into the Malvaceae. Together with the bulk of the former Sparrmanniaceae, Grewia is in the subfamily Grewioideae and therein the tribe Grewieae, of which it is the type genus.[2]

Starr 980529-4195 Grewia occidentalis.jpg
Crossberry (Grewia occidentalis)
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Grewioideae
Genus: Grewia

Numerous, see text or Complete list

  • Arsis Lour.
  • Balmeda Steud.
  • Chadara Forsk.
  • Chadra T.Anders. (orth. var.)
  • Charadra Scop. (orth. var.)
  • Fallopia Lour. (non Adans.: preoccupied)
  • Graevia Neck.
  • Greuia Stokes. (orth. var.)
  • Grevia L. (orth. var.)
  • Inodapnhis[verification needed] Miq.
  • Mallococca J.R.Forster & G.Forster
  • Sasali Adans.
  • Syphomeris Steud
  • Tridermia Rafin.
  • Vincentia Boj.
  • Vinticena Steud.
  • Viticena Benth. (orth. var.)
Grewia damine flowers in Hyderabad, India
Grewia flavescens flowers in Hyderabad
Grewia tiliaefolia flowers in Hyderabad

The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus, in honor of the botanist Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712) from England. Grew was one of the leading plant anatomists and microscope researchers of his time, and his study of pollen laid the groundwork for modern-day palynology.

Ecology and usesEdit

Several Lepidoptera caterpillars are found to feed on Grewia species. These include the common nawab (Polyura athamas) and the swift moth Endoclita malabaricus. The Bucculatricidae leaf miner Bucculatrix epibathra is apparently only found on G. tiliaefolia.

The parasitic wasp Aprostocetus psyllidis of the Eulophidae occurs on and around phalsa (G. asiatica). Its larvae are parasitoids of other insects - possibly pests of the plant, but this is not known for sure.

Several species, namely phalsa, are known for their edible fruit, which are of local commercial importance. The astringent and refreshing Grewia drupes are particularly popular in summertime. Folk medicine makes use of some species, which are reputed to cure upset stomachs and some skin and intestinal infections, and seem to have mild antibiotic properties. G. mollis is reputed to contain β-carboline alkaloids,[3] though whether such compounds occur in other species too and whether they are produced in quantities to render the plants psychoactive has not been thoroughly studied.

Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt described preparing a refreshing drink from the seeds of native Australian species G. polygama.[4]

Selected speciesEdit

Formerly placed hereEdit

Some species once placed in Grewia (or genera synonymous with it) have since been moved elsewhere, particularly to Microcos:[8]

Kleinhovia hospita was formerly known as Grewia meyeniana


  1. ^ Hinsley (2008a)
  2. ^ Heywood et al. (2007)
  3. ^ Brown (2001)
  4. ^ Maiden, Joseph H. (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney. p. 34.
  5. ^ Barrett, R. L. (2019). Three new species of Corchorus L. and Grewia L. (Sparmanniaceae / Malvaceae subfamily Grewioideae) from northern Australia, an earlier name in Grewia, and recircumscription of Triumfetta kenneallyi Halford Austrobaileya 10(3): 458–472 (2019).
  6. ^ Kristy Sexton-McGrath (2019-09-09). "'Dog's balls' shrub to be recognised as a new species, but colloquial name to remain". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  7. ^ Bussmann, R. W., et al. (2006). Plant use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2 22.
  8. ^ Hinsley (2008a), USDA (2008a)
  9. ^ Hinsley (2008b)