A ground cherry from Kim sc

This plant came up volunteer in two different sports between my corn stalks last year and this year too. It has little dangling green paper lantern like pod with smooth green seed inside. The seed looks like a green tomato. Inside that fruit are juicy tiny seeds surrounded by fluid. It’s beautiful with tiny yellow blossoms.

Hi, Kim,

this is a Physalis, or ground cherry.  The tomatillo is a cultivated fruit in the same genus.  I’m not certain what species this is.  If this is an annual plant, it would likely be Physalis angulata; if it is a perennial it would likely be Physalis virginiana.  Maybe someone else in our group can get it to species.  One of the distinguishing characters used is the color of the anthers – yellow or blue.  Some are edible [the ripe berries inside the ‘lantern’] but I’m not certain that all of them are.  I wouldn’t eat it unless this had been researched and the species ID was certain.  This is related to the tomato, by the way.

-Steve Hill, Ph.D., Botanist, SCNPS

2 Responses

  1. DEB says:

    Is the ground cherry dangerous for animals to eat (horses/cattle)?

    • Judy Seeley says:

      Ground cherries are toxic if eaten before they are fully ripe. Not sure the effects on horses and cattle. They are ripe when the papery shell around the cherry turns brown and the cherry falls off of the plant.

      Judy Seeley, Upstate Chapter

Leave a Reply