*Physalis virginiana Miller, Gard. Dict. 8th edn, no. 4 (1768)
T: Described from material cultivated from seed collected in Philadelphia, U.S.A.; syn: ?BM, n.v.
P. virginiana var. sonorae (Torrey) Waterfall, Rhodora 60: 154 (1958); P. pumila var. sonorae Torrey, Bot. Mexican Boundary 153 (1859)
T: Fronteras, Sonara, Mexico, June 1851, G. Thurber 418; holo: NY n.v.; iso: GH, n.v.; fide U.T. Waterfall, loc. cit.
A.R. Bean (2006) considers that Australian material is probably equivalent to Physalis longifolia Nutt., Trans. American Phil. Soc. n.s. 5: 193-194 (1837).
Rhizomatous perennial to 50 cm, glabrescent or sparsely pubescent with minute simple hairs.
Leaves alternate, 1–2 per node (but not opposite); lamina elliptic, cuneate at base, up to 9 cm (usually c. 6 cm) long, entire or slightly toothed or lobed; petiole to 3 cm long, grooved above.
Pedicels 8–15 mm long. Calyx usually 8–10 mm long; lobes narrowly triangular, 5–6 mm long. Corolla rotate, 10–12 mm long, greenish-yellow with dark spots between anthers. Anthers 2.5–4 mm long. Style 6–8 mm long. Fruiting calyx 10–angled, 15–25 mm long, pale green.
Berry globular, c. 10 mm diam. Seeds disc-shaped to broadly reniform, 1.5–2 mm long, brown to yellow-brown.
Distribution and ecology
Primarily a weed of cultivation in eastern Australia, occurring on the central tablelands and slopes of N.S.W., the Darling Downs district of Qld, and the Gippsland district of Vic.
Perennial Ground Cherry
There remains some confusion about the name to be applied to Australian material previously referred to Physalis virginiana Mill. in the Flora of Australia treatment of 1982.
Bean (2006) is of the opinion that since our material has been equated with P. virginiana var. sonorae in the past and this taxon is now equated with P. longifolia, Australian material should also now be treated under this name.
A table showing differences between some of the commoner groundcherry species, including this one (as P. longifolia), can be seen at www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/ipc/weedinfo/physalis-table.htm
Qld: Near Pittsworth, 29 Jan. 1971, C. Porter (BRI). N.S.W.: near Gunnedah, 27 Dec. 1977, A.R. Leys (NSW). Vic: Dookie, 1907, H. Pye (MEL).
Derivation of epithet
virginiana, a reference to the place from which the seeds were sourced when this plant was first described.
Images and information on web
Information about Physalis species as weeds in California can be found on the Encycloweedia pages at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/ipc/weedinfo/physalis.htm
Further information and links on P. virginiana can be found at the Plants for A Future site at www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Physalis+virginiana&CAN=LATIND
Information about the possible toxic properties of Physalis species can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database
Note: with the confusion surrounding the application of names in Physalis, information given on the web which is species specific should be viewed with some caution.