Ground Cherry 'Aunt Molly's'

Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia

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



Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Madison, Alabama

Redding, California

Hernando, Florida

Eureka, Illinois

Des Moines, Iowa

Brodhead, Kentucky

Capac, Michigan

Redford, Michigan

Clarkfield, Minnesota

Philadelphia, Mississippi

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 9, 2017, Rad_Greenthumb from Philadelphia, MS wrote:

While clearing and cutting the overgrown back 1/2 acre of my "new" house's lot , I found this unrecognized (but interesting) plant growing wild in a depression, and carefully mowed around it so I could identify it later, which I did on the USDA site (a great place to figure out plant species you aren't familiar with). While I don't recall the exact scientific name on that site, I do remember that it is a "ground cherry", and looks like the photo here for Physalis pubescens (or Physalis pruinosa, as it is listed for sale on eB*y), except that the calyx on the plant I found remain closed, as seen in photos of other species pictured on this site. Not knowing exactly what the plant was, I didn't venture to taste it, but marked the spot and protected the plant from being run over so that I cou... read more


On Feb 26, 2017, ciervatranquila from Issaquah, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

One only has to do a bit of research on Physalis to realize it is a tricky genus. Physalis peruviana is a different species (aka Cape Gooseberry), so the other listing for 'Aunt Molly's' as Physalis peruviana is incorrect, it seems.

It looks like the way to be 100% certain what species you have is to grow it out, then measure the anthers:

Physalis pubescens: Annuals; corolla 711 mm long; anthers 1.52 mm long; fruiting calyx 5angled.

Physalis peruviana: Soft-wooded short-lived perennials; corolla 1015 mm long; anthers 45 mm long; fruiting calyx 10angled.


On May 14, 2016, malsprower from Daytona, FL wrote:

I want this to become positive but every time I tried getting this to grow in Florida, it just gets devoured by red spider mites, and it cannot stand the hot sun. It wilts in the sun and just dies off randomly. All my other physalis grow excellent here. If anyone grows this in Florida with success, please let me know how you do it! Send me an email, I am dying to find something that tastes like these, they taste amazing, I only got 3 or 4 good fruits off these plants before they croaked.


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.


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.


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 st... read more


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


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.


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... read more


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!


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 other... read more


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 ... read more


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.


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.