Physalis pumila Nutt.

Physalis pumila plant

Family - Solanaceae

Stems - To +/-40cm tall, from caudex (well below surface), purple below, green above, herbaceous, branching, dense with spreading pubescence. Pubescence forked and/or branching.

Physalis pumila stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, densely pubescent (pubescence forked and/or branching). Blade ovate to lanceolate, +/-4cm broad, +/-7cm long, entire, acute. Margins sinuate or not. Petiole to 2.5cm long, winged. Wing -1mm broad.

Physalis pumila leaves

Inflorescence - Single axillary pedunculate flowers. Peduncle elongating in fruit to -4cm long, dense pubescent (with same pubescence as leaves and stems), purple.

Flowers - Pendant. Corolla yellow, barely darkening near base, funnelform, 2-2.5cm broad at apex, sparse branched pubescent externally, dense tufts of branched hairs internally at base of tube. Stamens 5, adnate near base of corolla tube. Filaments purple, 4mm long. Anthers yellow-purple, 3.2mm long, 2.7mm broad. Ovary superior, glabrous, 2-locular, subcylindric, 2mm broad and long. Calyx tubular, dense branched pubescent, 5-lobed. Tube to 5mm long, 5-6mm in diameter, green. Lobes acute, 4mm long. Calyx tube surrounding fruit at maturity and inflating to +2.5cm long, +/-2cm in diameter, pendant. Fruit many seeded.

Physalis pumila calyxCalyx.

Physalis pumila flower

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Limestone glades, dry prairies, rocky open ground, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - The "Flora of the Great Plains" gives two subspecies for this plant. The plant described above is subsp. pumila. Subsp. hispida has hairs which are stiff and straight, (hispid), and seems to grow in more sandy areas. Both plants are somewhat common.
Unless you have a very good eye, you will need a hand lens or scope to see the branching of the hairs.

Photographs taken at the Settles Ford Conservation Area, Cass County, MO., 7-26-00.


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