Ground cherry (genus Physalis) also spelled groundcherry is a genus of small herbaceous plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
There are about 80 species of ground cherry.
Most of the species are indigenous to the New World.
At least 46 species are endemic to the country of Mexico.
Ground cherry plants are herbaceous growing to 0.4 to 3 meters (1.3 to 10 feet) tall, similar to the common tomato, a plant of the same family, but usually with a stiffer, more upright stem.
Most ground cherry plants require full sun and fairly warm to hot temperatures.
The plants are annuals or perennials with simple leaves that feature entire or irregularly toothed margins.
The flowers are solitary and somewhat bell-shaped with five petals.
The genus is noted for the inflated baglike calyx (fused sepals), which encloses a fleshy berry similar to a tomato; the calyx occasionally becomes bright orange-red at maturity.
Their flavor of the fruit is uniquely sweet: to our palate, a mixture of pineapple, strawberry and green grapes — sweet, tart and vaguely tropical.
There are 53 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of ground cherry.
Ground cherry is a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin and riboflavin. It is also a good source of thiamin, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, bioflavonoids, protein, and fiber.
The health benefits of ground cherry include improve vision, lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, protect against colds and flu, relive sore throat, lower blood pressure and aid weight loss.
Ground cherries are very versatile, suitable in both sweet and savory dishes. They can be made into puree or salsa verde or baked as a ground cherry pie, upside-down cake, or a husk cherry and plum tart.
Ground cherry will stay fresh for up to three months if placed in a mesh bag and kept in a cool place (about 10°C / 50°F ).
Botanically, it’s considered a fruit with flesh surrounding and protecting seeds.
Not all ground cherry species bear edible fruit. Select species are cultivated for their edible fruit, however.
It is an economically useful crop as an exotic exported fruit, and is favored in breeding and cultivation programs of many countries.
Ground cherries are also known as strawberry tomatoes and husk tomatoes (not to be confused with their relatives, tomatillos).
The Cape gooseberry is native to the New World, but is common in many subtropical areas. Its use in South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope inspired its common name.
Smooth groundcherry is classified as a hallucinogenic plant, and its cultivation for other than ornamental purposes is outlawed in the US state of Louisiana under State Act 159.