You may recognize famous cultivars like Aunt Molly or Tomayo, but how much do you really know about the diverse and wonderful world of ground cherries? We’ve collected some of the most interesting (and delicious) types of ground cherries in one handy garden guide to help you narrow your choices and get planting.
The genus Physalis encompasses 80 species of herbaceous plants from all over the world. Often called husk cherries for their distinctive paper husk or calyx, these plants produce fleshy berries that are ideal for a diverse range of flavors and foods.
Physalis pruinosa ground cherries are part of the nightshade family with eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s easy to confuse a ground cherry for a cherry tomato once husked. However, the uniquely sweet and tart flavor of the ground cherry sets it apart.
Discover New Varieties of Ground Cherries
There are many individual ground cherry cultivars, each with a unique flavor profile, color, and texture; find out about some of the most exciting varieties in this article.
The husk cherry is a charming and delicious addition to any home garden. Learn common types of ground cherries, and discover how to nurture them for an incredible harvest.
There are ground cherry varieties to suit most every need and flavor preference. Explore how to grow ground cherry plants that your friends and family will love; the neighbors might even stop by to politely ask for a container of their own.
Try the Sweet Strawberry Ground Cherry
P alkekengi is a plant known by many names, including the strawberry ground cherry, winter ground cherry, bladder cherry, Chinese lantern ground cherry, and Japanese lantern ground cherry. These decorative fall florae produce tropical-tasting berries encased paper husks that range from deep orange to bright red.
These types of ground cherries are hardy from zones 5 to 12 and require about 70 days to harvest. Plant your ground cherry seeds when the soil is warm and in a space where they’ll receive full sun to partial shade.
It’s a great idea to prep the garden bed with an inch of organic compost. Mix the compost into the soil in the fall or as soon as the ground thaws in spring.
The Perfect Peruvian Ground Cherry
There are many types of ground cherries, but none like the P peruviana plant. Physalis peruviana, or the Peruvian ground cherry, is native to South America, specifically Ecuador, Columbia, and Peru.
Often found in supermarkets under the name Cape gooseberry, goldenberry, or Pichuberry, this juicy ground cherry species is ideal for pie, chutney, jam, and other fruit-based sauces.
The bountiful Peruvian ground cherry matures in 65 days and reaches five feet, something to consider when planting. These cultivars thrive in hardiness zones 9 to 10 because of the extended warm season, where it’s possible to grow seedlings year-round.
Use granular organic fertilizer on the soil before planting, or defer to the seed packet for recommendations. Water your groundcherry plants weekly, and enjoy the ground cherry harvest.
Ground Cherry Types for Tomatillo Lovers
The famous tomatillo, or Physalis philadelphica, is a staple in Mexican and Central-American cuisine. Tomatillos are a favorite among many home cooks and fabulous in soups, stews, and curries.
Tomatillos are also an essential ingredient for creating a unique salsa verde. The flavor of salsa verde depends on whether the ground cherry is harvested early, when it’s tart, or later when it’s sweeter and seedier.
These are some of the best varieties of ground cherries for tomatillo lovers. Choose your tomatillo based on fruit color; the green types tend to be citrusy and full of punch, and the purple varieties are much sweeter. Try Toma Verde, Plaza Latina, and Tomayo.
Choose Tomatillo Purple, Purple De Milpa, or Purple Coban if you prefer purple plants. Tomatillo seeds generally reach maturity in 70 days and are ready for harvest at your discretion, depending on the degree of sweetness you’re looking for.
Clammy Ground Cherry
Physalis heterophylla, commonly called the clammy ground cherry, is worth a mention because of its unique physical appearance. Each stem and leaf are covered with sticky white hairs that give the plant its “clammy” feel and nickname.
These ground cherry types are native to North America and found primarily in the eastern United States and Canada. Clammy ground cherry plants are great for some beneficial pollinators and garden insects, but the plant leaves and stems are toxic, and the berries are only edible when ripe. Keep this in mind if you have kids or pets.
Cossack Pineapple Ground Cherry
Of the many varieties of ground cherries, the Cossack pineapple is one of the most popular. Cousin of the cherry tomato, this fantastic ground cherry cultivar packs a huge pineapple flavor into a fruit the size of a marble.
The plentiful Cossack pineapple bush takes 68 days to reach maturity, stores well in its husk (3-4 weeks), and yields enough fruit to meet all your culinary requirements throughout the growing season.
The Best Ground Cherry for Colder Climates
Some parts of North America experience temperature changes that shorten the growing season and limit the selection of plants suitable for those conditions. If your hardiness zone number is low, you need ground cherry types that stand up to frigid fall nights.
Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry cultivar is a Polish heirloom variety ideal for those living in colder climates but still interested in growing ground cherries; these golden delights are prized for their citrus pop and culinary versatility. Plant the seeds and expect the ground cherry harvest in about 60 days.
Best Types of Ground Cherries for Breakfast
As the ground cherry matures, the husk turns green to light brown. The ground cherry drops from the bush and is ready for harvest. That’s all there is to harvesting ground cherries; collect the fallen fruit from the ground, open the husk, and enjoy. For the leftovers, there’s a delicious, bubbly, ground cherry crisp recipe for breakfast.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then melt half the butter on low heat in a skillet and turn it off. Toss the ground cherries with half a cup of brown sugar and two tablespoons of flour in a bowl, then pour it into the skillet; any ripe ground cherry will do for this recipe.
Mix the rolled oats, butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the second bowl. Cut the mixture until it’s crumbly, and sprinkle it over the ripe fruit in the skillet to make a sweet, crispy coating. Bake your ground cherry crumble for 30 minutes; it should be brown and bubbly. Allow 15 minutes for cooling before you enjoy.
We hope you liked discovering the many different types of ground cherries and how they might benefit your home garden. If some have piqued your interest, the best way to find unique ground cherry cultivars is to contact the Seed Savers Exchange. They store and distribute rare heirloom seed varieties, including ground cherries.
When planting from the P pruinosa family, ensure abundant and nutritious organic matter. Prep your soil with an inch of compost or use a granulated fertilizer to provide adequate nutrient content.
Use a tomato cage for support as the ground cherries grow, and prune as needed. Water your husk tomato weekly, and always water at the soil level to avoid foliar disease. Follow these tips, and watch your ground cherries thrive.
If you loved learning about different types of ground cherries and how to grow them, share this gardening guide with friends on Pinterest or Facebook who adore gorgeous ground cherries.