Indian Gooseberry is more properly known as “Pokok Melaka” (Melaka Tree). Pokok Melaka was one of the rarest trees in Malaysia but is now commonly grown especially in the states of Melaka, Perak, and Penang. Apart from Malaysia, Melaka trees are also found in tropical monsoon India. The Indians call this tree Aonla. The Hindus believe that it is the first-ever tree to grow in the world which is how it got its name the “Holy Tree of Hindus”.
The Melaka tree was recorded in history when the first ruler of Melaka, Parameswara, rested under a Pokok Melaka when he retreated from Muar in fear of being tracked down by the Siamese (Ayutthaya) after killing Temagi, the ruler who ruled Temasek.
To avoid an attack by one of the most influential kingdom at that time, Majapahit, Parameswara fled to the Malay Peninsula, to Muar, and then north from there to a nameless land. There, he rested under a Melaka tree and witnessed his hunting dog being defeated by a mouse-deer. He saw this as an omen and felt that this land had its own luck. He then asked his follower the name of the tree he was resting under to which they replied: Melaka. As such, Parameswara decided to name the land Melaka, after the tree.