Herb: Clammy Ground Cherry

Latin name: Physalis heterophylla

Synonyms: Physalis ambigua

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Clammy Ground Cherry:

The seed is considered to be beneficial in the treatment of difficult urination, fever, inflammation and various urinary disorders. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of headaches and as a wash for burns and scalds. A poultice of the leaves and roots is applied to wounds. An infusion of the leaves and roots is used as a wash on scalds, burns and VD sores. Compounds in the plant are being investigated for antitumor activity.

Description of the plant:


90 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Dry open woods. Rich soils, especially where the surface has been disturbed.

Edible parts of Clammy Ground Cherry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Quite nice raw though rather small, the fruit can also be made into pies, jams, sauces etc. Pectin or pectin-rich fruit should be added if the fruit is used in jams and preserves. The fruit can also be dried, ground into a meal and added to flour for making bread etc. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own "paper bag" (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow March/April in a greenhouse only just covering the seed. Germination usually takes place quickly and freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination. Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of Clammy Ground Cherry:

Dry open woods. Rich soils, especially where the surface has been disturbed.

Known hazards of Physalis heterophylla:

All parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.