Goldenberry (Physalis peruviana)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Goldenberry
Physalis peruviana
Solanaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaf juice has been used in the treatment of worms and bowel complaints[240].

    The plant is diuretic[240].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked in pies, cakes, jellies, compotes, jams etc[1, 2, 3, 34, 183]. A delicious bitter-sweet flavour, it has smaller but sweeter fruits than the cultivar ‘Edulis'[K]. The dried fruit can be used as a raisin substitute, though it is not so sweet[183]. 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 rich in vitamin A (3000 I.U. of carotene per 100g), vitamin C and some of the B complex (thiamine, niacin and B12)[196]. The protein and phosphorus levels are exceptionally high for a fruit[196]. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter[200].

    The dried fruit is said to be a substitute for yeast[183]. If picked carefully with the calyx intact, the fruit can be stored for 3 months or more[196]. The fruit is about 2cm in diameter[196].

  • Cautionary Notes

    All parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous[19, 65].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow 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. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination[170]. Division in spring[111]. This is best done without digging up the plant. Remove young shoots that are growing out from the side of the clump, making sure that some of the below ground shoot is also removed. It is best if this has some roots on, but the shoot should form new roots fairly quickly if it is potted up and kept for a few weeks in a shady but humid part of the greenhouse[K].
Succeeds in a sheltered position in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade[196, 200]. Prefers a rich loam[38] but tolerates poor soils[196]. If the soil is too rich it encourages leaf production at the expense of fruiting[196]. Plants tolerate a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.2[196]. The Cape Gooseberry is an evergreen shrub in its native environment. It is not very cold-hardy in Britain, however, though it can succeed outdoors as a herbaceous perennial in the mildest areas of the country or when grown in favoured positions such as the foot of a sunny wall. Some cultivars will tolerate temperatures down to about -10¡ when grown in this way[K]. It would be wise to apply a good protective mulch to the roots in late autumn after the top growth has been cut back by frosts. In most areas of Britain, however, it needs to be grown as an annual in much the same way as tomatoes. The plant is usually naturally bushy, but it can be useful to pinch out the growing tip whilst the shoots are less than 30cm tall in order to encourage side shoots[K]. This species is often cultivated for its edible fruit in warm temperate and tropical zones, there are some named varieties[3, 183]. ‘Edulis’ is the most common cultivar in Britain, it has considerably larger fruits than the species but these do not have quite such a good flavour[K]. Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are common in S. America, 33 tonnes has been achieved[196].
S. America – Peru. Naturalized in C. and S. Europe.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.