Index- plants in this Family
Solanaceae / Nightshade
Ground Cherry (Physalis )
Ground Cherry is also known as Clammy Ground Cherry, Virginia Ground Cherry and Smooth Ground Cherry.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant which can reach 91cm tall (36inches). It can be a perennial or an annual. The stem is branched and often reclining.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 10cm in length (4inches). Each leaf is toothed or lobed.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 2cm wide (0.75 inches). They are greenish yellow sometimes brownish yellow. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The flowers hang from the stem.
Fruit: A berry hidden in a larger papery shell. The berry and shell are both green at first with the shell turning light brown and the berry taking on a yellow cast when ripe.
Habitat: Fields, borders and open woods
Range: Throughout the southeast.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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Daniel Reed
Clammy Ground Cherry and Smooth Ground Cherry (inset)

This is one of my favorite wild fruits to pick and eat as I find them. The taste of the ripe berry is sweet and distinctive. The berries are ripe when the husk turns brown and the berry inside takes on a yellowish cast. (See the cautions below)

Medical Uses: The plant has been used as a diuretic for various urinary problems. There seems to be no scientific data to support this. Its use for bladder problems may go back to the doctrine of signatures . Physalis is the Greek word for bladder.
:All nightshades must be considered somewhat dangerous. All parts of this plant except the ripe fruits may be toxic. It is possible that even the berries of some non native Physalis species may be toxic. Eating a large number of the ripe berries may cause diarrhea.

Similar Species: There are over a dozen species of Physalis these include:
Clammy Ground Cherry (P. heterophylla) which is the most common and has toothed, ovate leaves and is hairy.
Smooth Ground Cherry (P. subglabrata) which has narrower less toothed leaves and is almost hairless.
Virginia Ground Cherry (P. virginiana) Which is similar to Smooth Ground Cherry except hairy.
Chinese Lantern (P. alkekengi) (also known as Cape Gooseberry and Winter Cherry) is a native of eastern Europe and Asia and is often grown in flower gardens. It has white flowers and the berry and the calyx surrounding it turn red.

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Clammy Ground Cherry

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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