The Physalis Improvement Project

Welcome to the Physalis Improvement Project!


The genus Physalis is part of the Solanaceae family (also home to the well-known tomato and potato) and is home to the edible species of peruviana, pruinosa, and ixocarpa. These species are commonly known as goldenberry, groundcherry and tomatillo (as well as many other regional names). Groundcherry and goldenberry plants produce small edible fruits that range from sweet to tart with a variety of unique flavors. Tomatillo plants produce small to medium sized fruits and have a mild acidic flavor. This project aims to further explore the cultivation Physalis species by crowdsourcing information from volunteer citizen scientists throughout the United States. The Physalis Improvement Project is led by the Van Eck research group and is made possible through funding from The Triad and National Science Foundations.

Project Goals

  • Gather information from stakeholders involved in the production and consumption of Physalis
  • Use information gathered for crop improvement
  • Heighten the visibility of Physalis as a specialty crop 

Where are Our Growers?

Physalis Recipes

2019 Citizen Scientist Project



Meet the Project Team

Pictured: Nathan Reem, Kerry Swartwood,Esperanza Shenstone, Brandon Williams, Joyce Van Eck

Field Planting!

This week we completed our first field planting of groundcherry and goldenberry! In total, we put 90 plants in the ground, consisting of 3 types of groundcherry (Pineapple, ZL05, and Goldie), and 3 types of goldenberry (Goldenberry, India, and South Africa). As you...

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Pollinators of Physalis

The following is a guest post by Julie Davis, a first year PhD student in the Cornell University Department of Entomology Spring is finally yawning and stretching before it takes off full-force here in Ithaca, NY. Hyacinths, cherry blossoms, cilia, crocuses, red...

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Project Updates and News

Greetings everyone! Below you will find some project updates:   What we are growing This year we are doing our first field planting of groundcherry and goldenberry. Growing our plants in the field (versus the greenhouse) allows us to better understand the...

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Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853