Physalis longifolia Nutt. - Ground Cherry

Physalis longifolia plant

Family - Solanaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, from caudex (well below ground), herbaceous, angled, purple-green, glabrous or with a few appressed hairs on angles (strigillose), minutely winged on angles, (wings -1mm broad), branching (divergent) above, typically erect but also reclining with age.

Physalis longifolia stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Blade lanceolate to ovate, glabrous or sparse pubescent above, typically oblique at base, to +15cm long, +9cm broad. Margins entire to sinuate or coarsely dentate. Midrib purple with antrorse appressed pubescence. Petiole to +4cm long, winged.

Inflorescence - Single axillary flowers on peduncle to 2cm long. Peduncles antrorse strigillose, elongating in fruit.

Flowers - Pendant. Corolla funnelform, +2cm broad, sparse pubescent externally, dense pubescent(tomentose) internally in tube, yellow with purple at base. Corolla tube 5-6mm long. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Filaments thick, purple, clavate, glabrous, 5-6mm long. Anthers yellow 3.5mm long. Ovary green, glabrous, subglobose, 2-locular. Calyx tubular, 5-lobed, antrorse strigose. Tube to 5mm long. Lobes acuminate, to 6mm long, 4mm broad at base. Calyx tube inflating at maturity and surrounding fruit, to 3cm long, -3cm in diameter. Fruit pendant.

Physalis longifolia calyxCalyx.

Physalis longifolia flowerCorolla and stamens.

Physalis longifolia fruitFruit.

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Rich woods, ravines, bases of slopes, streambanks, thickets, pastures, disturbed sites, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - Steyermark lists 4 variations for this species. I will not go into those here as it may be that they are no longer considered valid. Regardless, Physalis longifolia is probably the most common species in the genus found in Missouri. The plant can look like a little "tree" with a single straight stem and "canopy" of branches near the apex, or, the plant can grow very low and almost sprawl.
The "Tomatilla", which is found in many stores now, is also from the genus Physalis. Some of our species are edible while raw, some need to be cooked first. P. longifolia should be cooked first.

Photographs taken off Hwy H, Shannon County, MO., 7-30-04.


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