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Physalis heterophylla

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
fy-SAY-liss het-er-oh-FIL-uh
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Clammy goundcherry is an herbaceous perennial plant native to North America in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. and native to North America.  In their native habitat, they are found growing in open woodlands, thickets, disturbed sites, or sandy prairies.  They have erect hairy green stems and typically grow to a height of 1 to 2 feet and a width of 1 to 3 feet.  The ripe fleshy fruits are edible but the rest of the plant is poisonous.

The yellow bell-shaped flowers with purple spots on the petals appear in the leaf axils and hang downward.  Fruits that follow are enclosed in a decorative tan husk.  The main identifying characteristic of this plant is the glandularly pubescence of the stem and leaves and the thick rhizomes that run horizontally from the stem.  This plant is easily propagated by seed or can be divided.

This plant does best in slightly moist to dry areas in loam, sand, or rocky soils in full or partial sun. Most herbivores will not eat the plant due to the high content of solanum in the leaves and unripe fruit but it has caused poisoning of cattle.

There are 4 varieties and the only this that differentiates them is the venation and margin of the leaves.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  Caterpillars can sometimes consume fruits before they mature.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. ambigua
    Many veined and dentate margins
  • var. clavipes
    Many veins, spare tooth-like projects from otherwise entire margins
  • var. heterophylla
    Dentate margins
  • var. nycangienea
    Thin leaves with tooth-like projections on otherwise entire margins
var. ambigua, var. clavipes, var. heterophylla, var. nycangienea
Tags:
#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennials#native perennials#nectar plant#showy fruits#deer resistant#vegetable garden#thickets#edible fruits#disturbed areas#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#native wildflower#naturalized area#hairy stems#native edible#problem for horses#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. ambigua
    Many veined and dentate margins
  • var. clavipes
    Many veins, spare tooth-like projects from otherwise entire margins
  • var. heterophylla
    Dentate margins
  • var. nycangienea
    Thin leaves with tooth-like projections on otherwise entire margins
var. ambigua, var. clavipes, var. heterophylla, var. nycangienea
Tags:
#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennials#native perennials#nectar plant#showy fruits#deer resistant#vegetable garden#thickets#edible fruits#disturbed areas#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#native wildflower#naturalized area#hairy stems#native edible#problem for horses#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Physalis
    Species:
    heterophylla
    Family:
    Solanaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , AZ , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY Canada: MB , ON , PE , QC , SK
    Wildlife Value:
    Various upland gamebirds and small mammals eat the mature fruit. Bees will visit the flowers.
    Edibility:
    The fruit is bitter but edible only when mature. Eat fresh, cooked into pies or jams, or dried.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    After flowering, the hairy sepals elongated and fuse to become a latern or inverted tear drop shaped papery husk containing a single 1/3- 1/2 inch fruit that has several seeds. They are green initially but become yellow at maturity in mid to late summer.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Funnel-shaped drooping flowers with 5 fused petals emerge singly from leaf axils and are yellow on the outside and yellow on the inside with purplish markings starting at the base of the petal. There are 5 sepals and 5 stamens with yellow anthers and purple filaments. The calyx and stem are covered in fine white hairs. Each flower is 3/4- 1 inch wide and blooms occur in summer for about 2 months.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Yellow-green, hairy simple, alternate heart-shaped to broadly lanceolate leaves 4" long and 3" wide with dentate, entire or undulate margins. Base is rounded to heart-shaped and tip is pointed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Hairy green round stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Symptoms include headache, stomach pain, lowered temperature, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory and respiratory depression, loss of sensation.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Solanine and other solanidine alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Stems