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 
Physalis: Growing Season Length

Physalis: Growing Season Length

With winter in full swing in Ithaca, it has come time to wrap up our first Physalis field season. Being that it was our first time growing groundcherry and goldenberry outside in a field setting, we didn't know what to expect. One thing we were interested in was the...

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Physalis: From the Garden to Table

Check out the slides from our 2019 event below!

Where are Our Growers?

Project Photos

Physalis Recipes

Citizen Science 2020: Join Now!


  • Grow plants that produce edible fruit in your home garden
  • Submit photos to help us track pests and pollinators
  • Follow along with our blog and follow us on twitter @PhysalisProject
  • Growing instructions provided

Available to anyone interested in growing plants in the United States

We will provide you with the seeds of up to four species of Physalis, you do not need to grow all four species to participate:

Colombia (Physalis peruviana) (Goldenberry)
PHY 50 (Physalis pruinosa) (Groundcherry)
Pineapple (Physalis grisea) (Groundcherry)
Toma Verde (Physalis ixocarpa) (Tomatillo)

Request Seeds by Feburary 1st to ensure shipment in time- Sign up below!

Meet the Project Team

Pictured: Nathan Reem, Makenna Raspantini, Joyce Van Eck, Kerry Swartwood, Linnell Randall, Esperanza Shenstone

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Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853