All About Ground Cherries

This year I sold physalis peruviana, or ground cherries, as it is more commonly known, at my local farmer’s markets. Most people had never heard of it before. I began to research it, and decided I had to make a blog post about this amazing fruit.

Ground cherries, also known as Cape gooseberry(South Africa),Inca berry,Aztec berry,Golden berry,Giant ground cherry,Peruvian groundcherry,Peruvian cherry,Pok pok(Madagascar),Poha(Hawaii),Ras bhari(India),Aguaymanto(Peru),Uvilla(Ecuador),Uchuva(Colombia),Harankash(Egypt) or (rarely)Physalis, are closely related to the tomatillo and chinese lantern, and more distantly, tomato, eggplant, potato, and other members of the nightshade family. Contrary to what the name implies, it is not related to the cherry or gooseberry family. It is grown all over the world in tropical,, subtropical, and temperate climates. Ground cherries are small, approzimately 1-2 cm in diameter, and are enclosed in a papery husk. When cut open, it looks similar to a tomato. It is sweet but slightly tart, and is said to taste similar to pineapple, strawberries, or citrus fruits, with an earthy undertone.

This fruit has amazing benefits for your health. It is high in vitamins A, C, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The ripe fruits also have a concentration of beta-carotene. It also has significant amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, bioflavonoids, protein, and fiber.


Vitamin A

  • Great for vision
  • Helps immune and inflammatory systems to work correctly
  • Helps with normal cell growth and development
  • Essential for the reproductive systems


Vitamin C

  • Essential to the immune system
  • An antioxidant, which prevents damage or death of cells
  • A natural antihistamine (allergy relief)
  • Reduces chance of stroke
  • Protects against Parkinson’s disease


Thiamin, also known as B1

  • Helps protect the nerves
  • Great for mental health
  • Essential to metabolism, especially with carbohydrates
  • Lowers chance of cataracts


Riboflavin, also known as B2

  • Necessary for iron metabolism
  • Prevents headaches/migraines
  • Maintains other B vitamins


Niacin, also known as B3

  • Raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Helps cardiac health
  • Good for treating depression, senility, and memory loss
  • Improves joint flexibilty and relieves pain and swelling due to arthritis


Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin

  • Helps children to develop properly
  • Improves mental health; may even stop Alzheimer’s disease , if caught early on
  • Greatly reduces risk of pernicious anemia
  • Helps with cell renewal, keeping you young and fresh


On top of all these wonderful vitamins, ground cherries only have 53 calories per 3.5 oz serving, and 1 gram of fat. Because of the large amount of fiber, eating ground cherries will help you to feel full faster, keeping you from overeating and therefore helping you lose weight. These wonderful berries have no sodium, and have a low glycemic index score. The high amount of pectin aids in absorbing calcium , which is necessary for strong bones. Ground cherries also do wonders for your cells, having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; it has been shown to inhibit cancer, particularly lung, colon, and liver varieties. It is also a diuretic (meaning it helps remove water and sodium through urine), and can be used to aid fluid retention and other such issues. In folk medicine, ground cherries have been used to treat asthma. dermatitis, hepatitis, malaria. and rheumatism .It has been found to have some melatonin, which helps improve and regulate sleep, prevents degenerative diseases, prevents migraines, and protects against reproductive organ cancers.

There are many ways to include this wonderful berry into your diet. It can be added to salads containing fruit or vegetables, canned, or made into a jam or sauce. Because of the high pectin content, it makes a wonderful pie or tart. They can also be dried and eaten like raisins. Add to ice cream, or crush and swirl in for an interesting flavor combination. To add sweetness, you may prick the skin and roll in sugar. You can also try making salsa, cake, or adding to your cereal. However, it is just as nice to eat them as is.

  1. I love ground cherries and could not find any nutritional info about them anywhere in my books – this article is so detailed and now I love ground cherries even more knowing how healthful they are!!!

    Can’t wait to continue to eat them as they ripen through the remainder of fall / early winter


  2. mountain woman

    I love you for this report. I had them growing wild in my garden. First book contact: they are poisonous. I pulled them out the first year, eating a few. The next year a mountain man told me abouit grandmother’s ground cherry pie. I let them grow and started eating them raw, So very delicious and precious.

    • Michelle Blackwood

      They are so delicious, have some in my garden that I’m waiting to harvest. I might just make a pie with them!

  3. My grandmother grew these and I haven’t had any since I was a little girl. She made preserves out of them. I recently found some at a Farmer’s Market here and I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get them home! If anyone knows where I can get some seeds and tips on how to get these to grow, please please let me know. I live in Iowa and everyone thinks you are talking about husk tomato’s and they don’t know what ground cherries are. Help….Thanks….

    • Michelle Blackwood

      I have some growing in my garden now, you can just take seeds from the ones you bought from the farmers market and allow them to dry for next years growing season. You can also purchase seeds online from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company.

      • Michelle..this is going to be a silly question, but do I get the seed from the ground cherry itself? I have to plants growing in my garden now. I love ground cherries alot and want to always have them. Another question..I live in Eastern Ontario Canada…can I dig up my ground cherry plants and bring them in the house in planters…would they stay alive?

        • Michelle Blackwood

          Joanne, there is no silly question :) Yes the seed itself is fine. I’m not sure about your zone but here in Ohio if you let the fruits that drop on the ground remain, they will reseed and multiply. I’m not sure that you can bring the plant inside, so why not save some seeds before you take the plant indoors.

    • Michelle Blackwood

      I would try Baker’s Heirloom Seeds or probably check the parks because they grow wild.

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