Physalis minima (wild cape gooseberry) is a perennial herb 8–20 inches high at its maturity. Leaves are soft and smooth, with entire or wavy leaf margins, 1 – 5 inches long. The upper surface of the leaf is dark green, and the lower surface is light green. Cream to yellowish flower is followed by edible yellowish fruit encapsulated in the papery cover which turns straw brown and drops to the ground when the fruit is fully ripe. The fruit has a pleasant cherry-tomato like flavor.
Scientific Name: Physalis minima
Common Name: Native gooseberry, wild cape gooseberry, and pygmy groundcherry.
How to grow and maintain Physalis minima:
It thrives well in full sun or part shade.
It grows best in well-drained, light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
Water your plant regularly during the growing season and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. You can allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry out between each watering. During the winter months, reduce watering.
Apply any organic fertilizer.
It can be easily propagated by seed. Sow seeds during March / April in a greenhouse only just covering the seed. Germination usually takes place quickly and freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problems.
Benefits of Physalis minima:
- Physalis minima fruits have a pleasant taste and are rich in vitamin C. Raw fruits can be cooked like a vegetable.
- The pounded leaves are used as a remedy for a headache and itches.
- The juice of the leaves, mixed with mustard oil and water, has been used as a remedy for an earache.