Ground Cherry


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 both ends.

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 lantern.

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 Margaret McKenny
Photo by Barb McGee -