Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Physalis peruviana L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaves and flower. © Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Photographer: M. Fagg.
Leaves and fruit. © Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Photographer: M. Fagg.
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1763) Species Plantarum : 1670. Type: Lima, Peru; holo: LINN.

Common name

Cherry, Ground; Gooseberry, Cape; Ground Cherry; Cape Gooseberry


Usually grows as a weak-stemmed shrub about 1-2 m tall but sometimes flowers and fruits when smaller.


Leaf blades about 3-10 x 1.8-7.2 cm. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade clothed in white hairs. Upper surface of the leaf blade arched between the lateral veins and the major secondary veins. Petiole with two longitudinal grooves on the upper surface. Twigs densely clothed in white hairs, longitudinally ribbed, pith white, usually becoming hollow. Leaves often arranged in pairs on the twigs but not opposite one another.


Calyx about 7-10 mm long, lobes triangular, about 4-5 mm long. Corolla about 10-15 mm long, yellow but with maroon markings. Anthers about 4-5 mm long. Pollen white. Style about 5-7 mm or up to 11 mm long. Stigma small, not much wider than the style.


Fruits enclosed in the inflated, persistent calyx. Calyx about 27-40 mm long, shortly 5-lobed at the apex, outer surface clothed in short erect hairs. Berry globular, shiny, glabrous, about 10-20 mm diam. Seeds flat, about 1.7-2 mm diam. Embryo +/- coiled into a loose spiral with the cotyledons in the centre.


Cotyledons pubescent, about 7-13 x 5-8 mm, apex acute to apiculate. First pair of leaves clothed in septate hairs on both the upper and lower surfaces. At the tenth leaf stage: both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade, stem and petiole densely clothed in white septate hairs. Leaf blade cordate. Seed germination time 12 to 35 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ, CEQ and southwards to Victoria. An introduced species brought to Australia from the Cape of Good Hope but probably introduced there from South America. Now naturalised in many localities in the higher rainfall parts of Australia. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level (?) to 900 m. Usually grows as a weed of agricultural land particularly newly felled and burnt rain forest on basaltic soils. Also found along roads and in disturbed areas of rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

The fruit makes a very tasty jam. Frequently cultivated for its edible fruit. Purdie et al. (1982).

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