Herb: Ground Cherry

Latin name: Physalis pubescens

Synonyms: Physalis barbadensis, Physalis floridana

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Ground Cherry:

The whole plant is antipyretic, depurative, diuretic, pectoral, vermifuge. A decoction is used in the treatment of abscesses, coughs, fevers, sore throat etc.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Damp to dry open woods, sand dunes and disturbed soil

Edible parts of Ground Cherry:

Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, preserves etc. A delicious bitter sweet flavour. The fruit falls from the plant before it is fully ripe and should be left for a week or two until the husk has dried and the fruit has turned a golden-yellow. Delightful when fully ripe. When dried in sugar, the fruit is excellent in fruit cakes, some cooks preferring them to raisins or figs. Yields up to 0.5 kilo per plant. 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 will store for several weeks if left in the calyx. The fruit is a berry about 15mm in diameter.

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.

Cultivation of Ground Cherry:

Damp to dry open woods, sand dunes and disturbed soil

Known hazards of Physalis pubescens:

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.