(Physalis pruinosa) 60-80 days This close relative of the tomatillo has a delightfully tropical taste, sweet, with a pineapple like flavor, a favorite among children. Ground Cherries are delicious fresh, but also are great in pies, preserves, hot dessert toppings, and even in salads, or on pizza for those who like pineapple on their pizza! Short plants, 12-18″, produce large yields of bite sized fruits, golden-yellow in color at maturity, paper husk covering fruit will turn tan at maturity. Branches spread laterally, choking out weeds, and bushes have been known in some conditions to be large enough to require staking. A true heirloom, recorded as early as 1837 in Pennsylvania. A neat plant to grow, we have really enjoyed them!
Caution: Do not eat immature Ground Cherries as they are poisonous, containing the same compound as green potatoes, also dangerous to eat. Both are of the nightshade family. Wait until papery husks turn light tan in color to eat Ground Cherries.
Planting Instructions for Ground Cherry Seeds
May be direct seed Heirloom / Open Pollinated Ground Cherry in long season climates, otherwise it is recommended to start indoors 4-6 weeks. before last frost date. When direct seeding Heirloom / Open Pollinated Ground Cherry, plant 0.25″ deep. Plant in full sun or with afternoon shade in hot climates. Thin Ground Cherry to 12-24″ apart. Give an average water supply. Ground Cherry plants are self supporting, but do sprawl, so caging or trellising is recommended in small Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable Gardens. Ground Cherry Fruits are mature when husks are light tan, and fruits fall from plant.
Do not eat immature Heirloom / Open Pollinated Ground Cherries, as they contain a toxic compound!