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Useful Tropical Plants

Physalis peruviana

L.

Solanaceae

+ Synonyms

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

Physalis peruviana
Fruiting stem
Photograph by: Plenuska
Creative Commons License
Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana Physalis peruviana

General Information

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[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Known Hazards

All parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous[
19
Title
Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Stary. F.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1983
ISBN
0-600-35666-3
Description
Not very comprehensive, but easy reading.
,
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
].

Botanical References

170
Title
Ground Cherries, Husk Tomatoes and Tomatilloes.
Publication
 
Author
Dremann. C. G.
Publisher
Redwood City Seed Co
Year
1985
ISBN
0-933421-03-6
Description
Only a small booklet but it covers the various species in some depth.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

S. America - Chile, Peru.

Habitat

Coastal regions and disturbed areas from sea level to 4,500 metres.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height1.20 m
PollinatorsBees, Wind
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

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[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. In the tropics, elevations above 800 metres produce better yields[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. 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[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,300, tolerating 800 - 4,300[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Plants are tolerant of light frosts[
428
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 65
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1978
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet. This volume contains parts of the Flora of Panama.
].
Succeeds in a sheltered position in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a humus-rich loam[
38
Title
Simmons' Manual of Fruit.
Publication
 
Author
Simmons A. E.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-7153-7607-1
Description
A good guide to some of the cultivars of temperate fruits. It covers quite a wide range of fruits.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
] but tolerates poor soils[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
]. Dislikes clay soils[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. If the soil is too rich it encourages leaf production at the expense of fruiting[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
]. Plants tolerate a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.2[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
].
A first harvest of fruits can be obtained about 3 months after sowing the seed, harvesting can continue for at least 3 years[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
The plant can flower and fruit all year-round when growing in frost-free areas[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are common in S. America, 33 tonnes has been achieved[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
].
There are some named varieties[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, cakes, jellies, compotes, jams etc[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
3
Title
Growing Unusual Fruit.
Publication
 
Author
Simmons. A. E.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
1972
ISBN
0-7153-5531-7
Description
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
,
34
Title
The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1975
ISBN
-
Description
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. A delicious bitter-sweet flavour, it has smaller but sweeter fruits than the cultivar 'Edulis'[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The dried fruit can be used as a raisin substitute, though it is not so sweet[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. 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)[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
]. The protein and phosphorus levels are exceptionally high for a fruit[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
]. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The dried fruit is said to be a substitute for yeast[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. If picked carefully with the calyx intact, the fruit can be stored for 3 months or more[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
]. The fruit is about 2cm in diameter[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
].

Medicinal

The leaf juice has been used in the treatment of worms and bowel complaints[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

The plant is diuretic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

A decoction of the calyces is used in the treatment of diabetes[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow in a seedbed or containers[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination[
170
Title
Ground Cherries, Husk Tomatoes and Tomatilloes.
Publication
 
Author
Dremann. C. G.
Publisher
Redwood City Seed Co
Year
1985
ISBN
0-933421-03-6
Description
Only a small booklet but it covers the various species in some depth.
]. Plant out into permanent positions when about 8 - 10cm tall[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
Division in spring[
111
Title
Popular Hardy Perennials.
Publication
 
Author
Sanders. T. W.
Publisher
Collingridge
Year
1926
ISBN
-
Description
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
]. 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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

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