Herb: Sunberry

Latin name: Physalis minima

Synonyms: Physalis divaricata

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Sunberry:

The fruit is said to be appetizer, bitter, diuretic, laxative and tonic. Extracts from the plant have shown anticancer activity. The juice of the leaves, mixed with mustard oil and water, has been used as a remedy for earache.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy river flats in Australia. Field edges, waste ground near houses, roadsides etc, in porous organic-rich soils in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Sunberry:

Edible fruit - cooked. Tastes like a cherry tomato. Scarcely worthwhile. Juicy, mildly astringent and sweet with a pleasant blend of acid, the overall quality is good. The unripe fruit can be cooked as a vegetable. The fruit is about 1.5cm in diameter. It contains about 6% sugars, 2.7% protein, 1.2% ash, 0.6% tannin and 0.5% pectin. A good quantity of vitamin C. about 24.5mg per 100ml of juice. The fruit is formed and ripens consecutively over a long period. Average yields from a plant covering 2.5 square metres are about 545g. 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 Sunberry:

Sandy river flats in Australia. Field edges, waste ground near houses, roadsides etc, in porous organic-rich soils in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Physalis minima:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many of the members have poisonous leaves and stems, though the full ripe fruits are usually edible.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.