Physalis virginiana Mill.

Virginia Ground Cherry


CC = 3
CW = 5
MOC = 72

© SRTurner

Family - Solanaceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial.

Stems - Ascending, usually branched, to 60 cm, nonglandular, moderately pubescent with downward-angled hairs, also usually with longer, spreading hairs.

Physalis_virginiana_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, simple, petiolate, to 7 cm, lanceolate to ovate, sharply pointed at tip, with entire or toothed margins, moderately nonglandular-hairy with a mixture of shorter appressed and longer spreading hairs. Where present, teeth relatively shallow, bluntly pointed or rounded. Surfaces dark green when fresh.

Physalis_virginiana_leaf.jpg Leaf.

© SRTurner

Physalis_virginiana_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Calyx - Flowering calyces 6-12 mm, the lobes 3-6 mm long, the outer surface moderately to densely pubescent with a mixture of longer, spreading hairs and shorter downward-angled or -curved hairs. Fruiting calyx sparsely to moderately hairy at fruiting, becoming elongated to 20-40 mm long, shallowly 10-angled or 10-ribbed, concave at the base

Physalis_virginiana_calyx.jpg Flowering calyx.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Corollas 10-17 mm, pale yellow to lemon yellow or yellow, the inner surface with 5 prominent purplish brown spots toward the base. Stamens with broad filaments about as wide as the anthers, the anthers 2-3 mm long, yellow, arched but not coiled after dehiscence.

Physalis_virginiana_corolla.jpg Corolla.

© SRTurner


© SRTurner

Flowering - April - October.

Habitat - Forests, upland prairies, loess hill prairies, savannas, glades, ledges, fields.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This ground cherry is common throughout most of the state, and ranges throughout the Midwest and southeastern U.S. Because the flowers are pendent and often borne below the foliage, the plant is not very conspicuous. As a group, plants in this genus usually occur singly or in small groups of a few plants, rather than in large populations. Important characters for identification include the size and appearance of the corollas and calyces, types of hairs present, and whether the plant is rhizomatous. Physalis virginiana is distinguished in part by its large flowers and nonglandular pubescence.

The berries of these plants are edible and closely related to tomatillos.

Photographs taken at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 5-17-2018 (SRTurner).