Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ground Cherry
Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia 'Aunt Molly's'

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

Synonym:Physalis pruinosa

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
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:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

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


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive

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; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By JerseyGardener1
Thumbnail #1 of Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia by JerseyGardener1

By TomatoCarl
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By Purple_Pansies
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By PurplePansies
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By JerseyGardener1
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By Suze_
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There are a total of 9 photos.
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10 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SheboyganBert On Oct 12, 2013, SheboyganBert from Sheboygan, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I let the wrapped fruit sit out on the deck table outdoors in the partial sun for up to a week to ripen, nothing bothers them. After seven days or so you'll notice most of the fruit to be golden/white, whiteness more sweet. I had a sort of rotational stock of ripening ground cherries to eat on my table all summer long. I'm digging up my plants and repotting them as frost is expected, they can stay in my garage over winter, make sure soil remains moist, to see if they will survive for a spring replanting in mid-April (zone 4b/5a), hopefully fruiting heavily early May.

Positive NicoleC On Mar 28, 2013, NicoleC from Madison, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Large, sturdy plant and one which is very productive. I did lose some limbs to weight; the plant will appreciate a little support -- farther out than you'd expect. Ripe fruit has a sweet flavor with a hint of pineapple. Since you really need to harvest newly fallen fruit daily, I had some difficultly getting on my knees and reaching under such a large plant. If I were to plant it again, I'd probably put it in a large pot and place a cloth or tarp underneath during fruiting season for easier collection.

Positive JeremiahT On May 10, 2012, JeremiahT from Brodhead, KY wrote:

This is a hardy, highly productive plant with small, golden fruits enclosed in papery calyxes. Flavor of ripe fruit is unusual, difficult to describe---though it is very sweet, with notes of pineapple and tomato.

I grew six plants last year---started indoors 6-7 weeks before the last frost date, in the manner of tomatoes---and had an abundance of fruit for fresh snacking and cooking. The plants received no special treatment---just a good mulching with rotted leaves, a bit of watering during dry spells, and a couple of foliar feedings with a fish emulsion/kelp extract solution. No disease or insect problems, though a couple of plants did split at the main stem---apparently a result of rapid growth, high water content and sprawling habit. Bound up splits with twine and staked plants as best I could---no easy task because of their sprawling growth habit---, and they were none the worse for the damage. Indeed, as hardy as ground cherries are, I suspect the damaged plants would've been fine if left alone.

There are apparently only a handful of cultivars, Cossack Pineapple and Goldie being the only others of which I've heard. Aunt Molly is the only cultivar with which I have had first-hand experience, though the impression I've gained from reading (and in which I may be entirely mistaken) is that there are few appreciable differences among them.

In any case, those gardeners who haven't tried ground cherries ought to give them a go. They're a snap to grow and, to many palates, delicious. I was certainly impressed, and am increasing this year's planting by two.

NOTE: There seems to be some taxonomic confusion regarding ground cherries and their relatives. The USDA apparently labels Cossack Pineapple, a cultivar regarded as P. pruinosa/pubescens on PlantFiles and elsewhere, as P. peruviana, and there exists a *second* PlantFiles entry for "Aunt Molly" which identifies it as a cultivar of P. peruviana. ( ) Other sources, however, indicate that P. peruviana is a related but separate species called Cape Gooseberry. Perhaps some knowledgeable member can shed light on this matter. Is one of these entries incorrect---or is P. peruviana in fact another synonym for P. pruinosa/pubescens?

Positive justgret On Mar 20, 2012, justgret from Shingletown, CA wrote:

It growes well in Redding, California. Now I will try at my home in Shingletown, CA

Positive Aquarius247 On Feb 1, 2011, Aquarius247 from Lake Alfred, FL wrote:

When I lived in Iowa ,as a child,my mother made the best pies using ground cherries. Had a wonderful taste all its own.

Positive TKinGuelph On Jul 7, 2007, TKinGuelph from Guelph
Canada wrote:

Ground cherries add a very pleasant flavour to a compote, unlike anything else I have tasted. The flavour is mild, so it doesn't overpower others but can complement them. Compotes I have tried them in have been largely apple-based, sometimes with a few other fruits as minor ingredients (minor compared to the apple.)

I live in Guelph, Ontario, with a garden not as friendly to large tomatoes as I would like (less sun than they really like, I think.) I get tomatoes with good but not outstanding flavour, except for cherry tomatoes, which I have great results with. (Maybe the problem is more the gardener than the conditions...)

Aunt Molly's is the only cultivar I have tried. It is super easy to grow here and even self-seeds decently (good thing, since I missed starting them this year.)

I like it as an ornamental, too, and plan on putting a few around the maple tree in my front yard next year.

Positive momof2d On Jan 8, 2006, momof2d from Des Moines, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I grew 1 Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry in 2005, I will grow it again but to get good from the fruit you need several plants, I dont like Tomato's (unless they are chopped & mixed with other foods - strange huh?) but I loved eating the raw Aunt Molly's ground cherry, very sweet & I cant wait to make some jam with it!

Positive 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. Aunt molly's is supposed to be a better tasting variety. Letting them ripen fully helps reduce this "skunkiness" and some plants just wind up producing better tasting fruits than others (it is variable). Save seeds only from fruits you've enjoyed eating.

Neutral PurplePansies On Jun 29, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Physalis pruinosa is native to easteren North America and is related to the other edible ground cherry phsyalis peruviana. Both have similar flavors. Pruinosa is said to be generally a smaller plant with slightly smaller fruits. It is also said to ripen better in cooler climates. Aunt Molly's is an old heirloom cultivar said to have superior flavor to wild physalis pruinosa. I am just now growing plants and have not harvested fruit yet so will have a better rating etc. when I do. Physalis pruinosa so far has proved easy to cultivate. Sow seeds as you would tomatos (in warm enviroment) and best results are received sowing them indoors (before frost) as you would tomatos etc.) Grow them like tomatos in full sun and rich soil. Stake them if necessary. Harvest is said to be best when fruits fall off plant. Collect them off the ground. All ground cherries/ground tomatos tomatillos etc. sometimes have a sticky substance under the husk and on the "tomato" just rinse it off... and of course remove husks before eating. :)

Positive JeffSeattle On Oct 4, 2003, JeffSeattle from Seattle, WA wrote:

I've read that ground cherry culture is basically the same as for tomatoes, but ground cherries seem much hardier. They wintered over here last year (several light frosts) without dropping their leaves, and some of the fruit even wintered over. They will set larger fruit with frequent watering and rich soil. They make GREAT jam, with a flavor like oranges and apricots.

Positive TomatoCarl On Aug 12, 2002, TomatoCarl wrote:

When ripe, the pods turn brown and drop off the plant. Opening the pod reviels a bright yellow fruit that tastes very sweet. My daughter, who does not like raw tomatoes, (where have I failed her?) really likes ground cherries. I have been told they make excellent jelly.


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

Madison, Alabama
Redding, California
Hernando, Florida
Eureka, Illinois
Des Moines, Iowa
Brodhead, Kentucky
Capac, Michigan
Leetonia, Ohio
Boise City, Oklahoma
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Elgin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Ogden, Utah
Payson, Utah
North Tazewell, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Toutle, Washington
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

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