Sustainability

Physalis spp. (Ground Cherry)

While sometimes grown as a crop, ground cherry also appears in uncultivated settings. 

A member of the nightshade family, the edible Physalis spp. wears a distinctive lantern husk around its berry. 

Different species of Physalis are found throughout the continent. In particular Physalis heterophylla is the specific species found in Kent County.

Common Name: Ground cherry

Scientific Name:  Physalis spp.

Plant Family: Solanaceae

Primary Uses

Edible Parts: The berries insides the husks are the edible portions of this fruit. To harvest wait until berry drop to the ground. Once the fruit has fallen the fruit has become edible. Ground cherries can be eaten raw but is commonly also used in pies and jams.

Caution is advised unripe berries and other portions of the plant are inedible and cause digestive harm.

Medicinal Uses: Traditionally Ground cherry and other Physalisplantsare known to have anti-inflammatory components and strengthen the immune system. Recent medical tests have discovered that like other night shades Physalis have anticancer properties. Scientists are currently studying how these properties can aid in cancer treatment. The Ground Cherries leaves can also be made into a tea to mitigate burns.

Meaning of Scientific Name:  Comes from the Greek word “phusallis” which refers to an animal’s bladder. This name is based on the peculiar contour of the ground cherries husk.

Designing with this Plant

USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-10

Forest garden layer: The herbaceous layer

Sources

  • Kindscher, Kelly1, kindscher@ku.edu, et al. “The Ethnobotany and Ethnopharmacology of Wild Tomatillos, Physalis Longifolia Nutt., and Related Physalis Species: A Review.”[“La Etnobotánica y Etnofarmacología de los Tomatillos Silvestres, Physalis longifolia
  • Wilde, Barbara. “Ground Cherries.” Organic Gardening, vol. 55, no. 4, May 2008, pp. 28-30. EBSCOhost, washcoll.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=31837316&site=eds-live.
  • “Physalis heterophylla - Nees.” Plants for a Future, Plants For A Future, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Physalis%2Bheterophylla.