Other names: Virginia ground cherry, old
squaw berry, tomatos del campo, husk tomatoes
Blooming time: Late May to August
Height: 1- 1 1/2 ft.
Stems and Leaves: The ground cherry has a
forked stem that is covered with long hairs. The leaves
are several times longer than they are broad and taper at
Flowers and Fruit: The dull yellow flowers are
bell-shaped with a 1/2 inch wide brown center. The fruit
is a reddish berry that is edible when thoroughly ripe in
late summer and fall. It is completely enclosed in a
paper husk that resembles a miniature Japanese
Interesting facts: The ground cherry is a
non-poisonous member of the nightshade family along with
tomatoes, potaotes, eggplants, and red and green peppers.
A poultice was sometimes made from the ground cherry to
treat snakebites. A tea brewed from the plant was said to
have cured dropsy. The Meskwaki prepared a tea from the
whole plant and used it as a cure for dizziness. American
Indians and pioneers ate ground cherries raw or cooked.
The Indians usually made a sauce of the cooked berries,
whereas the pioneers made pies and preserves. Ground
cherries are still cultivated in gardens and the fruit
can sometimes be found at farmers' markets.
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Page last updated March 24, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest,
Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and
North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and
Photo by Barb McGee - bjmcreations.com