Wednesday's Wildflower: Coastal Groundcherry
|The Groundcherry is a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. Photo by Carol Tebay|
According to the Atlas of Florida Plants, there are ten native species of Physalis growing in Florida. While Coastal Groundcherry seems to prefer Gulf Coast counties, at least one species of Physalis can be found in most Florida counties.
Physalis are a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family along with tomatoes and tomatillos. They are most easily identified by the calyx or lantern enclosing their fruit. Physalis means “bladder” and refers to the enclosed fruit. The single, yellow-green flowers are turned down making them almost inconspicuous.
|While some groundcherries are commercially cultivated, the fruits are only edible when ripe, |
so unless you are certain, leave them for the wildlife. Photo by Carol Tebay
|Coastal Groundcherry, photo by DBollenbach|
While people can eat Groundcherry fruit if fully ripe, it may be toxic if not ripe, so use caution before consuming them. If you are interested in learning more about the edibility and cultivation of groundcherries, watch this video: Green Deane, the edible ground cherry (physalis) a wild edible that has found its way into cultivation.