Giant Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L)

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I can’t say with absolute certainty that this is what I am growing since the plant was given to me by someone way back in the spring, and she was unsure of the origin. All we know is that the plant is much larger and taller than the smaller ground cherries (I believe these are Physalis pruinosa) that are popular at farmers’ markets in this region. I have grown that plant in the past, and they tend to grow along the ground (hence the name), while the type I am growing has big leaves, big fruit, and a tall growth habit.

I’m growing the giant cape gooseberry plant on the roof in a very large, metal garbage can. It’s not a great year for tropical sun lover’s; however, the added heat from the metal and good drainage is doing wonders for it and there should be some ripe fruit soon if the warm weather keeps up.

If you’ve never tasted cape gooseberries or ground cherries I urge you to do so. They have a surprising citrus tang with a hint of pineapple. So amazingly tropical yet they will thrive in this climate and even self-seed into just about anywhere with an inch of soil. I’ve found plants coming up in sidewalk cracks and the part of my roof that is just a thin layer of gravel on top of tar paper.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Giant Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L)

  1. Hm. My ground cherries, from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, are short but I wouldn’t describe them as “growing along the ground.” They are very much upright and extremely bushy. Perhaps it has to do with you living in Toronto and me living near Nashville?

    I was told that they are called “ground cherries” because they’re not really ripe until they fall to the ground, and even then they’re at their best when you let them sit around for a while. (The ones I picked at the first hint of yellowing to keep the birds from getting them and then let ripen further didn’t taste nearly as good as the ones I picked off the ground and let ripen further.)

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