It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

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



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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


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

Oldsmar, Florida

Sanford, Florida

Gowrie, Iowa

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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 thos... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.