Herb: Tomatillo

Latin name: Physalis ixocarpa

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Edible parts of Tomatillo:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is a berry that is 2.5cm or more in diameter. When not fully ripe, the fruit can be cooked and used in curries, sauces, soups, stews etc. A delicious flavouring when used like a tomato and added to soups, stews etc. The fully ripe fruit is sweeter and can be eaten out of hand, added to salads or used in pies, preserves 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. The fruit can be stored for up to a year if picked before they are fully ripe and left inside their calyx.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Waste places.

Propagation of Tomatillo:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste places.

Medicinal use of Tomatillo:

None known

Known hazards of Physalis ixocarpa:

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

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.