CAPE GOOSEBERRY SEEDS – 20 Seeds
Physalis peruviana L. Solanaceae
Common Names: Cape Gooseberry, Goldenberry, Husk Cherry, Peruvian Ground Cherry, Poha, Poha Berry.
Origin: The cape gooseberry is native to Brazil but long ago became naturalized in the highlands of Peru and Chile and became identified with the region. It was being grown in England in 1774 and was cultivated by early settlers at the Cape of Good Hope before 1807. Soon after introduction to the Cape the plant was carried to Australia where it quickly spread into the wild. Seeds were taken to Hawaii before 1825 and the plant is naturalized on all the islands at medium and somewhat higher altitudes. Only in fairly recent times has the fruit received any attention in the continental U.S.
Growth Habit: The cape gooseberries is a soft-wooded, perennial, somewhat vining plant usually reaching 2 to 3 ft. in height. Under good conditions it can reach 6 ft. but will need support. The purplish, spreading branches are ribbed and covered with fine hairs.
Foliage: The heart-shaped, nearly opposite leaves are 2-1/2 to 6 inches long. They are slightly velvety when compared with the narrower and smoother leaves of the tomatillo.
Flowers: Bell-shaped, nodding flowers form in the leaf axils. They are yellow in color with dark purple-brown spots in the throat, and cupped by a purplish-green, hairy calyx. Fruit buds are produced after 12 to 13 stem internodes are formed.
Fruit: After the flower falls, the calyx expands, forming a straw-colored husk much larger than the fruit enclosed, which take 70 to 80 days to mature. The fruit is a berry with smooth, waxy, orange-yellow skin and juicy pulp containing numerous very small yellowish seeds. As the fruits ripen, they begin to drop to the ground, but will continue to mature and change from green to the golden-yellow of the mature fruit. The unripe fruit is said to be poisonous to some people. Cape gooseberries are self-pollinated but pollination is enhanced by a gentle shaking of the flowering stems or giving the plants a light spraying with water.
Location: The plant likes a sunny, frost-free location, sheltered from strong winds. It does well planted next to a south-facing wall or in a patio.
Soil: The cape gooseberry will grow in any well drained soil but does best on sandy to gravelly loam. Very good crops are obtained on rather poor sandy ground.
Irrigation: The plant needs consistent watering to set a good fruit crop, but can’t take “wet feet”. Where drainage is a problem, the plantings should be on a gentle slope or the rows should be mounded. Irrigation can be cut back when the fruits are maturing. The plants become dormant during drought.
Frost Protection: In areas where frost may be a problem, providing the plant with some overhead protection or planting them next to a wall or a building may be sufficient protection. Individual plants are small enough to be fairly easily covered during cold snaps by placing plastic sheeting, etc. over a frame around them. Plastic row covers will also provide some frost protection for larger plantings. Potted specimens can be moved to a frost-secure area.
Propagation: The plant is widely grown from seed. There are 5,000 to 8,000 seeds per ounce, which are sometimes mixed with pulverized soil or ashes for uniform sowing. High humidity is required for good germination. The plants can also be propagated from 1 year old stem cuttings treated with a rooting hormone. Plants grown this way flower early and yield well but are less vigorous than seedlings.