Physalis Blog Post
Biology Minute: Other Physalis Species
Best Wishes for the End of the Year
As we wrap up the 2018 we want to thank everyone who has taken an interest in Physalis, especially groundcherry and goldenberry. Remember, if you are interested in participating in the project this upcoming year, please fill out this quick interest form and we will be in touch when the time is closer. In the spirit of the upcoming new year I’ve decided to highlight some “new” Physalis species below!
Physalis alkekengi, commonly known as chinese lantern, is an ornamental species and easily recognized by its bright orange husk. The plant is cultivated worldwide, but is considered native to parts of Europe and Asia. It grows well in a variety of conditions, being rated as zones 3-9 for hardiness. But gardeners beware, this plant spreads by rhizomes quickly, and is known to “escape cultivation”, so keep that in mind if you decide to grow it.
Like the groundcherry and goldenberry, the fruit inside the husk is edible and is ripe when the husk becomes beige and papery. The flavor of the berry has been described as a sweet tomato, however it is unlikely that you would ever find it marketed as a food in a grocery store. The plant however is well known as an ornamental and is sold primarily cut or dried, and is regularly found in floral arrangements.
Physalis Ixocarpa and Physalis Philadelphica
Physalis Ixocarpa and Physalis Philadelphica are the species names given to tomatillo, a popular crop native to Mexico and Central America, that is still widely produced in those regions to this day. A wide diversity of tomatillos exist, with green, yellow, and purple varieties producing fruit between 2-6 centimeters in size. The species prefer slightly warmer climates, being rated for hardiness zones 5-11. These species are self-incompatible, meaning their flowers cannot self pollinate, and outcrossing is needed to produce viable seeds.
Like other Physalis, the fruit mature within a husk, however the fruit are considered optimal for harvest once they have protruded through the husk and are firm to the touch. Unlike groundcherry and goldenberry, tomatillos are not sweet, instead offering a mild acidic taste. They are frequently used for their acidic properties as well as their color in many Mexican sauces.