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PlantFiles: Husk Tomato
Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Physalis (fy-SAL-is) (Info)
Species: pubescens var. integrifolia

Synonym:Physalis pruinosa

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4 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive stonetta On Jul 27, 2008, stonetta from Ceglie Messapica (BR)
Italy (Zone 10a) wrote:

I tasted the fruit for the first time last summer, loved it, was given a small plant last fall, thought it hadn't made it through the winter, and then bam! it grew beautifully.
Right now, end of July, it has flowers and some fruits.
I just purchased a packet of Ground Cherry seeds (believe it's also known as Cape Gooseberry). I will see how the seedlings look, and if they seem too vulnerable, I'll overwinter indoors or outside by a south facing wall.
I notice the description says "under 6"? Mine is about 2 ' tall.

June 24, 09 update.
The plant produced an abundance of fruit that I found to be delicious. I was counting on it being a perennial or at least reseeding, given the number of fruits that ended up on the ground and uneaten, but it died and no volunteers have sprouted. Perhaps it is because we had frost last winter (pretty unusual for San Francisco).
I purchased a packet of seeds, but none of those sprouted either.

Positive old_dart On Oct 12, 2007, old_dart from Newport, NH wrote:

I came across this plant quite by accident. I recall early this summer seeing the pretty yellow flowers when I was cleaning out the "wild end" of the flower garden. Because they were pretty I saved them. But had no idea what they were.
Now I have discovered these little green lanterns hanging from the plants. After a little reseach I found that they were what I believe to be Ground Cherrys.On looking further at the plant I found that there were a few with the brown lantern, so I opened the lantern and found a slightly yellow and green friut. I removed it and ate it. It was delicious. It apperars that I have just the one plant and God only knows how it got there, but I hope that it survives the winter. And spreads in the spring.

Neutral joegee On Jul 13, 2006, joegee from Bucyrus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Please revise zones for this plant! It grows perfectly well in Ohio through zone 5a!

As others have noted, it reseeds readily, and it's delicious in baked goods (gorgeous pie, Ohbreezy!!!) I like 'em fresh, but not all people do. Your mileage may vary.

Beware the look-alike of the ground cherry, another low-growing plant that likes similar growing conditions, also a solanaceae, that also produces encased yellow fruits. Use your nose. To me, a crushed fruit from one of these (Solanum physalifolium, hoe or ground-cherry nightshade, poisonous!!!) impostors smell like rotting cheese.

Positive OhioBreezy On Aug 30, 2005, OhioBreezy from Dundee, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

These make a truly wonderful pie!!! they are so easy to grow, they turn brown and drop off when they are ready :) If you leave some in the soil, you will get starts again in the garden following year even here in Ohio.

Neutral JerseyGardener1 On Aug 9, 2005, JerseyGardener1 from Deal, NJ wrote:

Physalis pruinosa fruits (flavor) may not appeal to everyone. The fruit is tasty though if left to ripen completely. Even slightly green or yellow/green fruits will have an off flavor. They are like quinces in this way. Let them ripen to a full golden yellow/orange. They have a somewhat sweet flavor. Texture (of skin) is exactly like a tomato and insides are somewhat like a tomato but devoid of the pulpy seed cavity. They are all meat..... however they are seeds dispersed throughout it and there are a TON of them. This may make the fruit unpleasent to eat to some. The flavor is pretty sweet as stated and tastes like a mixture of fruits, some pineapple, some strawberry and grape with a touch of tomato. It also has a slight flavor that is unpleasent..... some fruits have it more than others. Some have it so slight that they are still tasty some have it so much they taste sort of yucky. It is a hard to describe "note" a note of skunky?ness or dirtiness.... a guess a note of "skunkiness" would best describe it. Letting them ripen fully helps reduce this and some plants just wind up producing better tasting fruits than others (it is variable). Save seeds only from fruits you've enjoyed eating. Not my favorit fruit vegetable to grow/eat (easy to grow not most favorite for eating) but a fairly pleasent tasting fruit none the less and a garden novelty.

Positive Calista On Jul 4, 2005, Calista from Middle Amana, IA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I do not have any at this time but as a child I remember my Grandpa and I's garden being full of these great like plants that produced such a wonderful tasting fruit, that is so undiscribable, atleast in my opinion there is not anything else to substitute the wonderful flavor of this fruit. The year after my Grandpa past away they stopped growing in the garden. I have tried every since to find seeds and nobody seems to know what I am talking about. I really wish I could find some, somewhere. I encourage anyone that can find seeds to plant them. I think they would make wonderful jams and sorts, though I have never had I always ate them right out of the garden.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Keystone Heights, Florida

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