Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tomatillo, Husk Tomato, Miltomate, Tomate de Fresadilla
Physalis ixocarpa

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Physalis (fy-SAL-is) (Info)
Species: ixocarpa (iks-so-KAR-puh) (Info)

Synonym:Physalis aequata
Synonym:Physalis philadelphica

20 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Edible Fruits and Nuts

Unknown - Tell us

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Ferment seeds before storing

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4 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SugarSnapMama On Mar 14, 2012, SugarSnapMama from Columbus, OH wrote:

Tomatillos are a MUST GROW in my zone 5b garden every year. There's no other veg that is going to give you the unique flavor that a Tomatillo will give you. Especially in red salsas as a "secret" ingredient. People will chase you down to figure out why your salsa is better than any other they've tasted. ;-) They are essential in Salsa Verde', which is awesome on steak, in green enchiladas, burritos- you name it. They're also just darn good eaten raw in salads.
They have a sticky residue on them when you pick them. I've never used soap to get that off as some suggest. It washes off easily with cold water. The residue gives them a weird smell which totally disappears with the residue.
I've never had any real pest issues with Tomatillo. Never any diseases either. One time I had some kind of tiny caterpillar/worm that made their homes in the husks and broke out at some point (tiny holes left behind in the husk). The fruit were completely untouched and unharmed. I would have never known they'd been there at all if I hadn't been picking them early and seen them. I was told this is a fairly common issue and does not harm the fruit at all. That proved to be true.
They do extremely well (when grown correctly). You have to have more than one plant, so that they can pollinate each other. I never plant less than 3, though I have friends who do have success with just 2.
Different people like Tomatillos at different stages of ripeness. They taste differently at each stage. Early, when they are bright green- they are slightly tart. That's my favorite stage. When they develop more of a yellow-green color, they are less tart. Then they go yellow, and then purple. Personally, I don't like the flavor when they're yellow and like it even less when purple. They taste almost rotten to me then. I do know people that like them purple though.
The husk develops on the plant before the fruit within develops. Don't be discouraged when you squeeze the husk(which you'd SWEAR must have a fruit in it) and discover it is totally empty. Soon enough, the plant will be bursting with fruit in all of those husks.
Tomatillo is a very prolific producer, and a long season producer. I get tons of fruit from late May/early June until I get a late November hard frost here in Central Ohio. The fruit is just as good whether it is large or small. Doesn't seem to matter. I often pick some early and use them. It's a tall and bushy plant, but the foliage is not as dense as with Tomatoes. Mine usually average 5ft in height.
Give them a try! You might just fall in love. Just remember to plant more than one (side by side) or you'll have big plants with empty husks that never develop fruit inside.

Neutral rtsquirrel On Aug 10, 2005, rtsquirrel from Santa Cruz, CA wrote:

When I grew them in San Diego, I had incredible success, but here in Santa Cruz, I have witnessed powdery mildew looking stuff on my three surviving plants. I prop'd them from traded seeds, so that may be why (pm), but we get our fair share of foggy days early in the growing season, and wet morn's in the summer. I only water at the base, but while on vacation, someone else watered, so...

Neutral Wingnut On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Easy to grow, tart fruit essential in making authentic Mexican verde sauce. Plant reseeds readily, but the seedlings are easily pulled up.

Positive kodak On Sep 28, 2003, kodak wrote:

I started my tomatillo plants indoors in mid May this year for the first time. I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and it is now sept 28. My wife and I just harvested about 4 lbs of the fruit. Some were small others quite large which were bursting the husks. I think next year I will try and start them a little earlier. Oh, and the reason we harvested today is that the weather forecast is for snow tomorrow. If any northern gardeners need more info on the plants please feel free to email me at

Good luck with the next season

Positive graffixalley On Apr 13, 2003, graffixalley from Laurelville, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have planted tomatillos directly in the ground in central Ohio and have been able to harvest medium to small but tasty fruits. I have also seen volunteers come up the year after but they always seem to be smaller. I am actually trying to start them indoors this year (2003) to see if I get a better yield.

Positive Lavanda On Mar 22, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This vegetable should not be confused with ground cherry just because it is husked as a ground cherry is.

This is a vegetable which is a native of Mexico. Although it resembles a small green tomato, it is not that either.

This plant was traditionally grown in Mexico in the corn fields, along with beans and squash and corn.

Many people have allergic reactions to tomatoes, but this fruit does not have the same effects in general.

The flavor is unique and delicious, and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is very popular in salsas, sauces, and as an ingredient in green chile stew or other stew dishes. It has a nice, tart flavor.

While growing, it is green with a green, loose, sort of moist husk and as it matures, it begins to fill in the husk, eventually even cracking the husk. As it ripens it begins to turn a yellowish-green color. The husk begins to dry out. As it matures, it also becomes less tart, bordering on sweet, although I wouldn't call it necessarily "sweet".

Many times in the grocery stores and markets, when purchasing tomatillos, you will notice that people have pulled the husks off of many of the tomatillos. By doing this, they are checking to see that the tomatillo is ripe but not overripe or spoiled. The tomatillos are ripe when pale yellow-green, and have filled out the husk, but are edible and tasty while still green nd with a loose husk

There are at least four cultivars of tomatillos, and may be green, purple, or stippled green with purple.

I love to cook with these. They are delicious and addictive.

They grow and self-propagate easily, but love a warm climate. They produce quickly enough after planting to where they can be treated as an annual vegetable in cooler climates.

Directly translated from Spanish, the word tomatillo means little tomato.


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

Fairfield, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Marcos, California
Santa Cruz, California
Aurora, Colorado
Citra, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Athens, Georgia
Linthicum Heights, Maryland
Kansas City, Missouri
Columbus, Ohio
Laurelville, Ohio
Alsea, Oregon
Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Mission, Texas (2 reports)
Red Oak, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Spicewood, Texas
Spring Branch, Texas
Hanover, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Pardeeville, Wisconsin

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