Herb: Virginia Ground Cherry

Latin name: Physalis virginiana

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Virginia Ground Cherry:

Extracts from the plant have shown anticancer activity. An infusion of the whole plant has been used in the treatment of dizziness.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy or rocky woods, openings and clearings. Rich soils in open woods and prairies.

Edible parts of Virginia Ground Cherry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is best after it has been touched by a frost. 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 Virginia Ground Cherry:

Dry sandy or rocky woods, openings and clearings. Rich soils in open woods and prairies.

Known hazards of Physalis virginiana:

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.