ground cherry

Rhea Thomas BarzanoApril 15, 2002

has anyone ever heard of ground cherries. my mother used to grow them in her yard. they are small leaf covered cherries that almost resemble a tomato and they are edible?

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If you mean Tomatillas ... they are edible. Be sure what you have locally is a Tomatilla before eating. I got seeds for the purple (pretty) kind from the Cooks Garden (I think) last year.

If you need me, I'll be in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 11:02AM
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gardencat(z7 SW OR)

There are several species with edible berries in the Physalis group, tomatillos are just one. Many of the other types are called ground cherries.

Latin names of some of the Physalis that have the common name "Ground Cherries" and are grown for their edible fruit:

Physalis fendleri-

Physalis pubescens- found growing wild from NY to Florida and west to Minnesota and Iowa southward to the tropics.

Physalis edulis-

Physalis peruviana (aka Cape Gooseberry and called Poha in Hawaii)- originally from Peru. These are not commonly seen in the U.S. except in Pennsylvania Dutch country and parts of the Midwest, and Hawaii.

Physalis pruninosa- (aka Dwarf Cape Goose Berry)native of eastern N. America

Physalis heterphylla- (aka Perennial Ground Cherry)native to Eastern N. America

There are also a couple species called commonly called tomatillos.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 12:27PM
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I understand that there are a few that are not good to eat ... not toxic, just kinda yuck tasting. I prefer to buy seed from a reputable company for that reason. I have regular "ground cherries" out front ... but I would not eat them. The birds can have those.

If you need me, I'll be in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 8:53PM
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The edible ground cherries tastequite nice. I'm growing two kind this year, the 'regular' one whose seedstock originated from fedco about 6 years ago and the pineapple ground cherry I bought from Pinetree this year; don't know how different they taste.
I think some kinds are native to Pennsylvania and remember them growing in my parents' garden in the late 50's here in eastern Pa.
Unlike crisp tomatillos which can grow an inch or two across, ground reach maturity at around 3/8" and have a soft texture when ripe and taste sweeter than a tomatillo at it sweetest. Once you grow them in your garden, you can count on them to reseed themselves year after year, or you can save the seeed and start them as you would tomatoes for an earlier harvest.
Some make jam and pies out of them but I haven't tried that.
Someone else asked a similar question a couple of months ago so you might do a search.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2002 at 8:12PM
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I never liked the taste of the "pineapple" or ground peach type. I am not sure if it is the quality of the seed or maybe the growing conditions, soil etc. Tomatillas do well here and there are some bland groundcherry types that are wild. Experimentation is the thing I guess. Still ... if I am looking for something pretty for the landscape I will go with the purple Tomatillas.

Has anyone grown the pineapple groundcherry in both clay soil and in good garden soil? I am wondering if that is the issue with that one tasting so off?

Nescafé no es café. (Instant coffee is not coffee.) -- Mexican saying

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 12:24PM
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hi everyone,
I have a 20 X 30 hill that gets afternoon sun and want an edible ground cover that will grow pretty fast and be perenial....would you suggest the ground cherry? or something else and where can I get them?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2002 at 9:14PM
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They make absolutely fab preserves. Grandma grew them in southern IL. I'm growing them for the first time this year.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2002 at 4:46AM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

I am familiar with the Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana). I got my seeds through Silverhill Seeds in South Africa (they really specialize in native seed which they collect from the wild, but I begged so they went to the local supermarket, got some fruit, dried the seeds, and sent them to me. Awfully nice of them). One needs a long summer, or warm winters. I guess they would do wonderful in So. Cal. I used to grow them in Port Elizabeth, a coastal city in South Africa, where they could fruit year round. Grew as high as 3 ft. beautifully bushy, laden with fruit. Makes special jam, and is sold in canned form over there, then used in a custard base for a cold dessert. I have some seeds left if someone is passionate about having some.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2002 at 9:23PM
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I have grown Physalis pruninosa - "Aunt Molly's" for three years now and really like them. They would not be used as a ground cover, as they don't spread. I've read they are the "cleanest tasting" of all ground cherries. I have nothing to compare them to, as they are the only ones I've eaten :)

I have a few seeds to trade if anyone is interested. You can email me directly at

Here is a link that might be useful: Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries

    Bookmark   May 25, 2002 at 2:51PM
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I just ordered two different types of "Ground Cherry"/Tomatillos. 1 is the Physalis peruviana I got it from Totally Tomato thinking it was the salsa kind. The other I got from Richters, the Physalis ixocarpa 'Rendidora' which, if I understand correctly, is the "salsa kind"

The latter I know can be used in Salsa, but I'd love to hear some other recipe ideas for that and would love to hear what you can do with the other (the peruviana) also.

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2002 at 6:30PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Geez, I'm not going to have any room in my Veggie garden if I keep adding new things to grow. But then growing something new is lots of fun when you discover something really tasty. I used to grow Tomatillos, going to try ground cherries if it ever gets to be spring!!!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2003 at 12:31AM
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paul98037(WA7Puget Sound)

I purcased some from Pine Tree seeds for cheep.

The plant was so pretty.

The frost got it before I did.

I am looking forward for this year.

the ones I saw in se nebraska as a child looked like these.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2003 at 4:05AM
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LOVEZUKES(z7 piedmnt NC)

i grew them in n.y.-had better luck when started early like tomato transplants.mulch the ground underneath-when they fall off the plant they are loved them.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2003 at 1:41PM
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paulyn(z 8 NW OR)

I grow Aunt Mollys every year. They can be stored for at least a month and are nice to snack on after the regular growing season is over. I love them. They like hot weather and do better with not too much water.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2003 at 8:45PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Never did get around to trying them this year. Oh, well. There is always next year !!!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2003 at 4:01PM
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Ana53(Tx7a/8b sun33)

We had some variety sprout on the edge of my bf's spot in the came up and we know for sure it's a Physalis...but we've NO idea what variety...

Any clues?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2003 at 9:10PM
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gponder(7/South OR)

I need a good ground cherry recipe for jam...Any ideas??

    Bookmark   September 20, 2003 at 8:49PM
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agrinerd(6b NC)

You should try them dried. They look like golden raisins when they're done and the taste reminds me of ripe figs. I grew out about a dozen different ground cherry accessions one year and I have to agree that Aunt Molly is the tastiest. One that was referred to as "Buffalo Berry" was absolutely foul.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2003 at 4:10PM
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Gooseberry Jam
500g gooseberries, stemmed
375g sugar

Heat very slowly in a covered container until juice begins to form. Uncover and boil until juice sheets from spoon.

Gooseberry and Passionfruit Jam
600g cape gooseberries
2 cups sugar
pulp of 4 passionfruit
1/2 cup water

Cook the gooseberries, passionfruit and water for 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and discard skins and most of the pips. Return liquid to the pan, add sugar and boil fast until setting point is reached. Pack and seal.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2003 at 5:29PM
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thisbud4u(San Diego)

The only seed company I know that has bothered to do any breeding on ground cherry is Thompson and Morgan. They call their variety "Golden Berry" and it's wonderfully delicious. Be sure, however, not to add much nitrogen, or to grow them in rich soil. In my experience, if you give them rich soil, compost or fertilizer you'll get huge bushes and little fruit. They tend to prefer poorer soil, especially sandy soil. In this year's T&M catalog, the selection is on page 165.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2003 at 11:17PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

They have some ground cherries at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 12:31PM
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