I'm considering ordering a ground cherry from Seed Saver's Exchange. Have any of you grown it or tasted it? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks,
Oh yes! I will now grow them forever now. ;) Last year I tried them for the first time (grew Aunt Molly). Loved them. This year I'm growing Cossack Pineapple.
We had two plants last year. It wasn't enough! :)
Thanks, reign! I'll get two!
Reign- Let us know how the Cossack Pineapple turns out! I got some seeds for it but I didn't get them in time to plant for this year. I definitely plan on trying it next spring, though. Although, I think they have a fairly short DTM so maybe I'll try them this fall.
What do they taste like? As I recall, the SSE catalog describes Molly as having a "clean" taste, which sounds weird to me. Clean of what? Are there aftertastes or off flavors that ground cherries usually have?
Reign--thanks for the information this spring. I have 2 growing. They are beautiful, but I do need to make sure I don't confuse them with the tomatillos right next to them(!). Also, SSE said that they sprawl about 3ft. Maybe it was the loads of rain we got this spring in Upstate NY, but mine are almost 6 ft wide, and had to be staked as they trampled everything. Also, the squirrels seem to like them. Not a problem as they are loaded with fruit! While I don't really know what to do with them (am thinking of making perserves or chutney) I can't imagine not having them in my garden.
My one question is how do I tell when they are ready to be harvested? Are they similar to tomatillos in that the fruit will fill out the husk? When I ate a few off the plant a few weeks ago they were small in the husk and quite tart. (sadly, I've been away from the garden since) Is this the norm?
They are ready to harvest when they fall from the plant. The husk browns and the fruit falls to the grown. The fruit will be yellow - golden yellow. They keep a long time if you leave them in their husk.
I grew Cossack Pineapple in my previous garden; it also spread quite a bit. The fruit would fall on the ground when ripe, so all I had to do was lift the branches & pick them up. This had to be done constantly, however, because mice would "harvest" them if left alone.
The flavor is quite pleasant, especially if allowed to ripen within the husk for several weeks after harvest. But consumption of large amounts of the raw fruit is unhealthy, and is not recommended.
Zeedman, could you say why raw ground cherries are unhealthy? I guess you might have to eat a lot more than the few Aunt Molly's I munch on while gardening.
Fran, you are correct in your assumption. I can't recall the original source of the recommendation... :-( ...but I am still looking. I only remember that it cautioned against eating _large quantities_ of the ripe fruit raw. I have snacked on them myself, with no ill effects.
The immature fruits contain potentially fatal amounts of solanine & related alkaloids; I can only assume that some small amount remains in the ripe fruit.
Solanine is the same substance that makes potatoes toxic when they turn green.
My mother always had ground cherries growing in her garden on the farm in Iowa. I love them. They never made it to the house, we would all sit by the plants and eat as many as we could. When I moved to Missouri years ago, I tried many times to get them to grow here, no luck. Until I ordered the Aunt Molly plants from Seed Savers. I ordered two more plants this year but probably didn't need to, I have many volunteers plants coming up all over my garden. It's wonderful! My mother never had to plant them either, every year she just let some of the volunteers grow. You should never eat a green ground cherry, they can make you very sick and some people just react badly to ground cherries. I've never meet anyone who has gotten sick from them but then again, I haven't met to many people who know what ground cherries are. They are like candy to me!
When I started growing them my MIL warned against eating the unripe fruit. I've never been told there was a problem with how much raw ripe fruit we eat. We eat a lot. :) We treat them like candy too. Thanks to the volunteers, this year I may actually get to try cooking with some.
I bought ground chery seed from jl hudson this year and simply had no luck with them at all! I replanted 3 times before I ran out. I direct sowed in the garden. Perhaps I should have started them in flats. Do they like lean soil? Mine is very rich and loamy. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
I started gardening in new plots last year; but in my previous garden, ground cherries volunteered every year. I tried to transplant some of them, but those that didn't die outright were significantly weakened. The root system is not as fibrous as tomatoes, mainly a large taproot, and it does not take well to transplanting in the garden.
In your climate zone, I am surprised that direct-seeding failed. Perhaps you will have to start them in pots initially (I did) to "air prune" the taproot. There is a wild ground cherry that grows even here in Wisconsin, so they should volunteer in your garden once they seed.
I love those wild ground cherries, aka "ground tomatillo", they grew wild in our gardens when I was a kid. The fruits are small, but they have a pineapple like taste to them, yum! I hope I can find some seeds, or a wild pland somewhere.
Reviving this thead, because I and a friend are trying these for the first time this year. Can these be caged/staked withoug ill effect on productivity?
It turns out I am getting 9 plants (5 I ordered from SSE and 4 from my friend. I ordered them from SSE as a backup in case hers failed, at her request. She now has 6 seedlings and is going to give me 4).
Nine of these very productive plants!!!!! I think I will be canning these and drying them, and possibly cooking with them too :D
I was looking at the seeds and I was interested in trying to grow a variety of ground cherry, pineapple and strawberry. Can anyone tell me if cross-pollination affets the fruit for taste? I would imagine they need to be planted in different parts of the yard for seed saving too. How many days to maturity? Thanks!
I read online the DTM is 70 days.
Sorry if this is a repeat. I planted fifty seeds of Aunt Molly's, but am not sure what the seedlings look like, and there is no description on the package. The cherry seedlings are lost amongst tree and other seedlings. Do they have red stems with really dark green leaves? Does anyone have a picture? I scoured the internet and came up with nothing. Thanks for any help you can provide.
Do ground cherries cross-pollinate with tomatoes?
No, ground cherries are in a totally different genus from tomatoes. They also don't cross pollinate with tomatillos which they are more closely related to.
This might not be very helpful, but mine just sprouted, and they are incredibly skinny, tall green stalks (taller and skinner than anything else I've ever started). I'll try to remember to upload a picture later.
I'm growing these for the first time this year and will be using containers. I ordered the pineapple from Southern Exposure and a "husk cherry" from Fedco. I recall the descriptions generally saying that they had a mild citrus flavor akin to pineapple when ripe and reading cautions about eating the unripe fruit as it was a "powerful emetic." They also said that they lend well to preserves and pies in addition to eating out of hand. I figure that my girls will love them.
I'm Ground Cherry too, No luck yet with germination... Those seeds are really tiny, I bought a Heat mat and dome kit to try to to kick them off..
Btw dont eat them when there still green! Ground Cherry are toxic when their not ripe. Becuase they are part of the NightShade family.
Ground cherrys are excellent. Ripe when they fall on the ground. And they always remind me of bonsai trees. If you like berries you cant plant enough!!!!
In the remote chance you dont like them you can send them to me.
Mine are finally starting to look almost respectable. How are everyone else's doing?
Here are mine.
Yeah thanks and if you look at my other post, I started these around April 8th,(the last time I posted in this thread).
They really are not growing too fast. Hopefully they'll pick up in July. I may of put them out too early.
oh by the way Jessica you started yours in March 25? Dang yours aren't growing to fast either. Maby they are a slow plant by nature.
You can buy seeds from Diane's Seeds website. One package to a customer, however.
I think they are a slow plant by nature. Mine is doing a bit better these days, though! :-P
Yes I think they are slow plant.. its hard to believe that such a little sprout will turn into a huge sprawling plant!
Here is mine now, blooming with fruit.
I'm not sure when to pick them though. :)
(And I was worried I planted them too late, lol)
Yours looks just exactly like mine at this point....I recall reading that the fruit will drop from the plant when ripe, but this is my first time growing them so I may be wrong.
They do turn brown and drop. Incidentally, I think they're disgusting, so if anyone wants some pineapple ground cherries to eat or save for seed, please send me an email.
I have about 7 ground cherry plants growing in my garden. They are loaded with cherries - but when they fall to the ground the husks are empty. What am I doing wrong. Should I pick them before they fall. At this rate - I'm not going to get any cherries. Any ideas are welcome. Thanks, Judy
I planted 5 ground cherries in a raised bed along with several tomatoes and some bachelor's buttons. Very crowded in there! They are doing well as far as I can tell, and if they are as delicious as most people say I want to plant more in a big new in-ground bed. So my question is: are these bushes by any chance perennials? Will they survive a Canadian winter? What should I do to promote a healthy patch of ground cherries? Thanks, Connie
A couple of interesting plants popped up in my garden last year, and I had no idea what they were. Discovered they were were ground cherries. They are back this year. Are the wild ones edible?
(Because of their similarity, I decided to plant some tomatillos this year. Doing very well so far. Thank you to manchester-sara for letting me know the two won't cross.)
This is my first year trying husk cherries. I have tried to find a definitive answer on how to best support them. I have heard that cages will not work because they typically grow under them. Does anyone have any tried-and-true methods?
They don't seem to need any support.
I adore mine! I planted some next to my deck so they can freely make more ground cherries and at a web page recommendation (don't remember the page) I planted some in a large container on the deck -- makes it a lot easier to find and harvest the fallen fruit. They are trickling in a bit at a time and I am freezing them with the trickle of blueberries I got off my first year plants, and I made blueberry/ground cherry scones a week or two ago that were fantastic. The sweetness is comparable to a blueberry but the flavor reminds me more of persimmons or something (but sweeter than the persimmons I have). I saw a recommendation to peel back the husk and dip them in chocolate for a dessert garnish, which I am definitely going to try, along with ground cherry pie. Yum..
Ground Cherries are a very interesting plant. They ground on the ground and are a member of the tomato family. There is no pit in the cherry, they look more like a tomato on the inside. Ground Cherries are best when they are yellow in color. Typically, they will fall off the bush when they are ready to be picked. Ground Cherries have an interesting flavor. I believe their taste changes a little as you eat the piece of fruit. At first, it tastes more like a tomato, but then gets very sweet at the end. I've heard people use words like "mango," "pineapple," and "cherry." A few have not been able to put the taste into words. Definitely try ground cherries in a pie! They are wonderful and really sweeten up.
Will ground cherries produce by themselves or do they need pairs?
I hear they need another plant because they do not self pollinate. Also I ave a question, since the unripe fruit is toxic, has anyone had a problem with their dog or cat eating an unripe berry? I have 4 small dogs and they are curious and do sometimes eat unripe tomatoes. How toxic are the berries?
How many could kill a human?
the unripe ground cherry berries are apparently wayyy more toxic than unripe tomatoes... as to how much more, I am not sure. Thankfully my cat completely ignores my ground cherry plants (she's partial to barley and couchgrass) but if your dogs are that curious and have eaten unripe tomatoes in the past, then I would most certainly err on the side of caution and not plant any physalis plants like ground cherries, tomatillos, etc.
As for this being a slow-growing plant, I think it all depends on soil quality and environment. Yeah, it'll grow in most soils, but one Aunt Molly's that I transplanted pretty late (some time in June) grew faster than anything I've ever seen before, even with my chilly microclimate, only 4-6 hours of full sun, and this spring/summer being as record-breakingly cold here in the southern gulf islands of BC. Mind you, this one ground cherry has all to itself a mound of 250+ gallons of incredibly eniched soil that was originally meant for experimenting with a monster tomato plant-- but then the deer jumped my fence and destroyed everything except the lemon verbena and my ground cherries (which is a real testament to how poisonous ground cherry plants are, since these deer happily eat entire tomato, pepper, squash, even yarrow plants without thinking twice. The lemon verbena is simply too annoyingly fragrant for them to bother). After the heartbreak of a decimated garden, I let a ground cherry start that I was growing in a 1 gallon pot take over that space, and in three months it went from being one foot tall to exploding to six feet tall and 6-7 feet wide, completely covered in at least 150 blossoms and husks! The amended soil must've been the reason for this, because I barely had to water it during the summer droughts, maybe once every week or two-- if that. I will take a picture of this lovely plant and post it here in the next week or two. I wish I transplanted it earlier, since these husks do take forever to ripen with these cold nights and mornings.
Pulling up this one - I'm planting ground cherries for the first time this year - Aunt Mollys from Jungs seeds.
For those who have experience:
Seed packet says germination in 28-35 days at 77-85 degrees. Does it really take so very long?
Also - my pack says "determinate" - I had thought they were like tomatillos - just bearing fruit until frost. Is it one crop and done? Any benefit to succession planting?
I was planning on planting with my tomatilloes - however - in reading about the toxicity, perhaps they should be separated? My purple tomatilloes were a little too sweet when making salsa verde, so we began to harvest them while still green, and worried I might confuse them if the bushes get tangled - now the tomatilloes - any toxicity there with unripe fruit? Can you easily distinguish ground cherry from tomatillo by husk?
Also - some of the earlier posters mentioned trying pineapple ground cherries - how did that work out? How was the taste vis a vis Aunt Molly?
Its my first year as well...but I do have sprouts coming up in my high tech, super expensive seed sprouting containment unit( egg carton ). My first set took almost three weeks...I started to worry when nothing was happening so I started some more. As I got my next carton started with various seeds, including the ground cherry, the original carton set started to sprout.
I am planting the Cossack Pineapple, purchased from Southern Exposure. No idea if these are determinate or not, maybe I should email Southern Exposure.
I have never had any trouble germinating Aunt Molly's or Pineapple seeds, even seeds that were years old. I start them when I start tomatoes, and they come up exactly when the tomatoes do.
Neither of those types seemed "determinate" to me! I kept meaning to take a picture of the gigantic shrubs they turned out to be in my garden the summer before last. They really did need staking, or the tomato-plant-like branches would split at the base of the plant. Not that that killed them, oh no. They were a good seven feet tall, and approximately six feet wide - even with trying to support them.
I'd say the flavor is like a very, very sweet tomato. Pineapple was sweeter than Aunt Molly's, but both are extremely sweet, in a rich tomato-ey way. I've never had ground cherries have husks that are as big as the tomatillos I've grown.
Tomatoes, tomatillos, and ground cherries all like the same conditions. Tomatoes can self-sow, but they don't show up early enough the next year to produce fruit. GROUND CHERRIES DO.
I have wild ground cherries growing in my garden or what I assume is a ground cherry. I've looked around on the Internet and it's either a ground cherry or a tomatillo. The plant looks different than the pictures posted previously so I'm not sure. With all the toxic warnings I'm scared to try it. I have one small yellowish husk that has fallen off the plant but I'm not sure if that is considered ripe yet or not! They are growing in a place that gets taken over by wild morning glory and weeds so I'm not sure if I should move the plant or leave it and just keep the space around it as clear as I can. There's a baby plant like it nearby that I'm thinking of putting in a pot to see how that goes. I'm very intrigued by this plant but also rather scared of it!
I read about these plants in a catalogue from seed savers exchange. I was curious about them so I made deeper search on the plantation method and the varieties. I found them in a supermarket in my country for 50$ per kg. I bought one for tasting and it was Cossack Pineapple. I placed few fruits in the sun for using the seeds later this spring. I just want to ask if anyone tried these plants in vertical stacking pots or in hanging baskets, two or three above each others? Or tried to trellis them with a V shaped trellis, so the plant would grow on the trellis and the fruits fall directly on the ground, not below the plant?
Thank you for your sharings
Depending on type, the plants get large to VERY large.
I live in Ontario, Canada.
I have a almost 2 feet tall Ground cherry plant but
its flowers just fall off. Is this normal?
Does the plant shed a lot of its flowers before giving fruit?
Thanks for your reply!
I started about 20 ground cherry seeds earlier this spring (early march). They really didnt start growing well until it was consisitanly 80-85 degrees.
They grew great and flowered earlier than expected. The first few flowers did fall off with no fruit to follow. When the second wave of flowers bloomed, tiny fruit followed every one.
Because ALL of my seedlings survived, I gave more than 1/2 of them away. . . Big mistake. . . My husband and grand kids cant get enough of them. I have 2 plants to my son to take home and he said he wishes he had more because his roommates get the ripe fruit before he gets home from work.
I grew the Physalis pruinosa variety from the sample seed shop. The plants only get about 2-3 feet tall and 1/2 as wide. Great for Pots. Ours taste like sweet pineapple.
Thanks for your info!
Now my ground cherry is about 3 1/2 feet tall and spreading,
it has so many flowers on it. I also have another one but this is a smaller plant.
I see bees are busy buzzing around the flowers so I am hoping to finally see fruits forming instead of falling down!
What do we do to Winterize this plant over winter here?
I Love this plant! It is not only pretty but kinda resembles a potato & tomato combo looking leaves...and big too!
I just love this plant..
every have one indoors as a potted plant anybody??
I make jam out of them and my son loves etaing them off the ground. They are great ! Nice 'fruit' to eat
This is the first year I am growing the ground cherry plant.
Now my other smaller ground cherry plant has grew much
bigger than the previously bigger plant!
The plants have quite a lot of green lantern husks on them,
so I am waiting for them to mature.
They seem to take forever to ripe!
My ground cherry fruits finally started to
drop about 6 days ago!
Thrill to see them drop to the ground!
This is my first year for planting the Ground Cherry/Husk Tomato plant.
This one [ only one grew from a handful of seeds I planted? Not sure why?
I would say anyone would love this plant. Even if you do not want to eat the fruits it makes[ and boy did mine make tons!] love this plant!
Next year I am going to use some seeds from this plant as it seems to be a super tough plant and very pretty too..
Ido want to get a few seeds from someone for the different varieties of them.Plants with the lanterns over the fruit that is.
Do grow one you will be amazed at how well it grows...
HuskTomatoGC -- ground cherries are tender plants and will die over winter just as tomato plants do in PA. (By the way, you should add your growing zone to your profile so that when you post we have a better idea of your climate, etc.)
But mine always self-sow --often popping up in odd places, probably thanks to birds or squirrels. My ground cherries this year are dropping while still green. I am very disappointed! Even picking them up (if I don't, the squirrels & chipmunks will!) and bringing them indoors to sit in a basket for a week or so does not seem to get them to ripen as in the past. Darn. Was really counting on jam this year!
I wonder how they would do in a hanging basket...
I have seeds from Seed Savers Exchange for "Ground Cherry 23, Leewen Family Heirloom". Has anyone grown these? Were the fruits tasty?
My ground cherries are producing lots of fruit as they did last year. This year, I've noticed several ripe cherries have a light brown streak in them. To my surprise,when I cut them open I found a small white worm in each fruit! My granddaughter is so grossed by them, she won't even eat one until I cut it open to check for the worm. The cherry doesn't have any holes or openings where the worm entered. Wondering if the egg is laid on the blossom, then the larva grows inside the fruit? What can be applied to kill the egg yet is safe for us to eat the fruit? Any thoughts?? Thanks!
Cleocrafta - free protein! LOL
Sorry, just being a smarty-pants, don't know what you could do to prevent the worm. (I think your theory about the egg being laid in the blossom is correct.) Guess you just avoid the brown-streaked fruits; hope they are not many.
If the green fruit is toxic, it is not so to squirrels & chipmunks or I'd have no more of those pests in my yard. (Of course, that is true of many plants & fungi we humans cannot eat.) They are getting ALL of them from the various beds I had tried to hide them in!
Someone a couple of years ago wrote that "the Seed packet says germination in 28-35 days at 77-85 degrees" and that the plants were determinate. Usually I just allow the plants that have self-sowed pop up in the garden but this year I wanted to try some new varieties so started them under lights as I do my other veggie plants and they certainly did not take anywhere near as long as mentioned above. Certainly no longer than peppers (which always come up quicker than packet info says). I do use bottom heat for germinating nightshade family seeds.
As far as determinate... Uh, no. Like the Eveready bunny they just keep going and going and going.... All but one of the ground cherry plants I have had over the years grow no more than about 12"-18" tall, but sprawl out in all directions (and do not root along the stems as tomatoes do - probably a good thing!). But this year I had one appear in my raspberry bed that has gotten nearly 3 feet tall. I think it used the canes for support as both plants grew. Of course, the squirrels found that one, too... (but seem not to be eating the raspberries, thankfully.)