Keezharnelli or Keezhanelli is a small shrub widely found in the plains of Kerala, including roadsides and households. It is a medicinal herb that can grow up to about 30 cm in height.
Its flowers and fruits appear interesting. They hang below the leaves precisely in a line. So they are hidden at first glance. That might be the reason why it is called Keezharnelli in Malayalam – means berries beneath. Also, these flowers are very tiny, making them barely noticeably.
Keezharnelli belongs to the same family as Amla (Indian Gooseberry) – Phyllanthaceae.
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There are four varieties of plants from the Phyllanthaceae family considered Keezhanelli.
There are only small differences between these plants. P. amarus has five petals while P. fraternus has six petals. Also, the leaves of P. madaraspatensis are broad towards the tip.
The plant grows upright to a height of 30 cm or higher. The stem is green or light red. Branches grow almost in an alternate fashion around the stem and are usually 10 cm or less in length.
The leaves are very small and sensitive to touch. They have a circular or oval shape. The tiny greenish-yellow flowers grow from below the leaf axils.
Fruits appear stuck to the branch. Each of them contains three seeds.
The different varieties of Keezharnelli occur widely in tropical areas, often as a weed.
In English, Keezharnelli is called Gale of the Wind, Stonebreaker etc.
Hindi: Bhumi Amla
Sanskrit: Bhu Dhatri, Bhumyamalaki, Bahuvirya, Bahupatra
Botanical name: Phyllanthus niruri