Physalis edulis Sims
Boberella peruviana (L.) E.H.L.Krause
Physalis esculenta Salisb.
Physalis latifolia Lam.
Physalis tomentosa Medik.
Alkekengi pubescens Moench
Common Name: Goldenberry
Cape gooseberry is an evergreen perennial plant producing a cluster of branched stems. The stems become more or less woody, especially at the base, and can grow 50 - 200cm tall. In cooler climates, the stems might die back to the ground in cold weather, but can resprout from the base when warmer weather returns.
The fruits are a minor, somewhat luxury, food that is for sale in many countries. The plant is often cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible fruit, which is sometimes exported[
All parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous[
S. America - Chile, Peru.
Coastal regions and disturbed areas from sea level to 4,500 metres.
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Cape gooseberry is a plant of moderate to higher elevations in the tropics - especially if treated as an annual, it can be successfully grown from the warm temperate zone to the tropics[
]. In the tropics, elevations above 800 metres produce better yields[
]. The plant grows best in areas where the mean annual temperatures are within the range 16 - 25°c, though it can tolerate 10 - 32°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,300, tolerating 800 - 4,300[
]. Plants are tolerant of light frosts[
Succeeds in a sheltered position in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade[
]. Prefers a humus-rich loam[
] but tolerates poor soils[
]. Dislikes clay soils[
]. If the soil is too rich it encourages leaf production at the expense of fruiting[
]. Plants tolerate a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.2[
A first harvest of fruits can be obtained about 3 months after sowing the seed, harvesting can continue for at least 3 years[
The plant can flower and fruit all year-round when growing in frost-free areas[
Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are common in S. America, 33 tonnes has been achieved[
There are some named varieties[
Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, cakes, jellies, compotes, jams etc[
]. A delicious bitter-sweet flavour, it has smaller but sweeter fruits than the cultivar 'Edulis'[
]. The dried fruit can be used as a raisin substitute, though it is not so sweet[
]. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own 'paper bag' (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten. The fruit is rich in vitamin A (3000 I.U. of carotene per 100g), vitamin C and some of the B complex (thiamine, niacin and B12)[
]. The protein and phosphorus levels are exceptionally high for a fruit[
]. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter[
The dried fruit is said to be a substitute for yeast[
]. If picked carefully with the calyx intact, the fruit can be stored for 3 months or more[
]. The fruit is about 2cm in diameter[
The leaf juice has been used in the treatment of worms and bowel complaints[
The plant is diuretic[
A decoction of the calyces is used in the treatment of diabetes[
Seed - sow in a seedbed or containers[
]. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination[
]. Plant out into permanent positions when about 8 - 10cm tall[
Division in spring[
]. This is best done without digging up the plant. Remove young shoots that are growing out from the side of the clump, making sure that some of the below ground shoot is also removed. It is best if this has some roots on, but the shoot should form new roots fairly quickly if it is potted up and kept for a few weeks in a shady but humid area[
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