Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Virginia Groundcherry, Ground Cherry
Physalis virginiana

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Physalis (fy-SAL-is) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Physalis virginiana var. virginiana
Synonym:Physalis intermedia
Synonym:Physalis lanceolata
Synonym:Physalis monticola

8 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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 outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Ferment seeds before storing

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to view:

By melody
Thumbnail #1 of Physalis virginiana by melody

By melody
Thumbnail #2 of Physalis virginiana by melody

By melody
Thumbnail #3 of Physalis virginiana by melody

By Floridian
Thumbnail #4 of Physalis virginiana by Floridian


4 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive wtliftr On Aug 18, 2013, wtliftr from Wilson's Mills, NC wrote:

I'm pretty sure that this is the Physalis that volunteered in our garden this year, seeds brought in with a load of natural fertilizer. I am fascinated by all varieties of Physalis- have grown (and eaten) ixocarpa (tomatillo), peruviana (Cape Gooseberry, lulo, uchuba), walteri (native to NC beaches, leeward sides of dunes), and found a new variety (to me) around Naples, FL back in June. Is it just me, or do these fruits not really turn yellow as they mature? I'd really like to try some, but know that in many Physalis varieties, the green fruit is toxic.
AnaM, if you were in Ecuador, you probably had fruits of P peruviana. It's native to that part of the world, and called uchuba and lulo, depending on the country. Common weed in Colombia and Peru, according to some friends from those countries. People harvest the fruits straight from the plants growing in their yards...

Neutral jar617 On Dec 27, 2009, jar617 from Dellroy, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have this growing in my backyard and never knew what it was until I saw this page.I always just mowed it over but it always came back the following year.
I have to say that it does spread more and more each year. I have always seen the pods but never the fruit. However, We do live way out in the country so I assume the wild animals take them.
I assumed it was in the nightshade family because of how it resembles the Chinese lantern. I will check it come Spring and gather what seeds or cuttings I can for any who want it next year.

Positive AnaM149 On Jun 21, 2007, AnaM149 from Casselberry, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I was first introduced to this plant when I last visited Ecuador. There it is used for ice cream and fresh juices. For juice, just toss in the blender with sugar. Add only a little water if necessary to facilitate blending but not any more. I find the flavor fresh and tasty, no sugar added. We buy them in the supermarkets as well and eat them fresh. I have a bush in my garden as a specimen where when the seedlings emerge in the yard, they get mowed over. A very easy way to contain it's spread.

Positive 7771 On Dec 28, 2006, 7771 from Grandview, WA wrote:

My dad grew ground cherries when I was a kid and I would like to have a few plants in my garden if anyone has any seeds.

Neutral Farmerdill On Dec 10, 2004, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Actually the Ground Cherry (HusK tomato) closely resembles the Tomatatillo. It has a small yellowish cherry sized fruit enclosed in a paper like husk. it also closely resembles the Chinese Lantern (Physalis franchetii var. Gigantea). The Gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum) is a totally different critter. As Melody stated they are very bland and were used primarily to make tomato preserves. In Virginia, we never had to plant them, they just came as volunters in cultivated fields and were ready to use when the gardens were cleaned out in anticipation of the first frost.

Positive foodiesleuth On Dec 10, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

The plant and fruit pictured looks very much like what we call Poha. It is the equivalent of the New England gooseberry, originally brought to Hawaii by the Missionaries when they first came to the islands. Even though it grows mainly at higher elevations, some plants have acclimated and grow even at sea elevation. We live at about 400'ft elevation and my plant does beautifully! I love to make poha tarts!

Negative melody On Nov 30, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

The ripe fruits can be used in pies and preserves, but are pretty tasteless unless they are sweetened.

Mainly, they are weeds that I continue to pull out of my garden. One missed fruit seems to multiply into thousands.They are edible....but just barely,and hardly worth cultivating.

Someone who has researched pioneer foods and wants to make authentic dishes might grow them for the novelty, but they escape into flowerbeds and pop up anywhere birds decide to deposit the seeds.


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

Oldsmar, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Benton, Kentucky
Vulcan, Michigan
Hutchinson, Minnesota
Saucier, Mississippi
Raleigh, North Carolina
Wilsons Mills, North Carolina
Dellroy, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Arlington, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Salisbury, Vermont
Troy, Virginia
Grandview, Washington

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