Physalis longifolia Nutt.

Common Ground Cherry


CC = 2
CW = 5
MOC = 81

© DETenaglia

Family - Solanaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with deep-set, long-creeping rhizomes.

Stems - To +1m tall, from caudex (well below ground), herbaceous, angled, purple-green, glabrous or with a few appressed hairs on angles (strigillose), minutely winged on angles, (wings -1mm broad), branching (divergent) above, typically erect but also reclining with age.

Physalis_longifolia_stem.jpg Stem and node.

© DETenaglia

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Blade lanceolate to ovate, glabrous or sparse pubescent above, typically oblique at base, to +15cm long, +9cm broad. Margins entire to sinuate or coarsely dentate. Midrib purple with antrorse appressed pubescence. Petiole to +4cm long, winged.

Inflorescence - Single axillary flowers on peduncle to 2cm long. Peduncles antrorse strigillose, elongating in fruit.

Flowers - Pendent. Corolla funnelform, +2cm broad, sparse pubescent externally, dense pubescent(tomentose) internally in tube, yellow with purple at base. Corolla tube 5-6mm long. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Filaments thick, purple, clavate, glabrous, 5-6mm long. Anthers yellow 3.5mm long. Ovary green, glabrous, subglobose, 2-locular. Calyx tubular, 5-lobed, antrorse strigose. Tube to 5mm long. Lobes acuminate, to 6mm long, 4mm broad at base. Calyx tube inflating at maturity and surrounding fruit, to 3cm long, -3cm in diameter. Fruit pendant.

Physalis_longifolia_calyx.jpg Calyx.

© DETenaglia

Physalis_longifolia_flower.jpg Corolla and stamens.

© DETenaglia

Physalis_longifolia_fruit.jpg Fruit.

© DETenaglia

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Rich woods, ravines, bases of slopes, streambanks, thickets, pastures, disturbed sites, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Other species of Physalis.

Other info. - This is one of the more common species of ground cherry in Missouri, found across most of the state, and also occurring in some form across most of the continental U.S. The plant can look like a little "tree" with a single straight stem and "canopy" of branches near the apex, or it can grow very low and almost sprawl. Important characters for identification include relatively narrow leaves (lanceolate to ovate but not broadly ovate), stems and calyces which are sparsely pubescent at most, and relatively large flowers with dark purple markings at their centers. The species is further subdivided into var. longifolia, with narrower leaves, and var. subglabrata, with slightly broader leaves. The distinction is subtle.

The tomatillo, used extensively in Latin cooking and now common in American supermarkets, is also from the genus Physalis. Some of our species are edible while raw, some need to be cooked first. P. longifolia should be cooked first.

Photographs taken off Hwy H, Shannon County, MO., 7-30-04.