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Common Name: Sticky Ground Cherry
Physalis viscosa is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many of the members have poisonous leaves and stems, though the full ripe fruits are usually edible[
South-eastern N. America - Florida to Texas and Virginia.
Coastal sand dunes, sandy woods near the coast, pinelands and prairies[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of this country. We are not sure if this species is an annual or perennial, but it should be possible to treat it as an annual, sowing the seed in early spring in a warm greenhouse and planting out after the last expected frosts[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade[
Edible fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Juicy and thin-skinned with a pleasant sub-acid cherry-like flavour[
].Said to be the best N. American species[
]. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own 'paper bag' (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten.
The fruit is aperient and diuretic[
]. It is used in the treatment of gravel, suppression of urine etc and is highly recommended in fevers and in gout[
The leaves and stems are febrifuge and slightly tonic[
]. They are used in the treatment of the malaise that follows malaria, and for weak or anaemic people[
The root has been used as a dressing on wounds[
Seed - sow early to mid spring 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. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination[
Division in spring[
]. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Basal cuttings in early summer[
]. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.