Cape Gooseberry steals the show

Cape Gooseberry or Physalis in its Autumn Colours

DSC010851My Physalis plants have reached their beautiful cheerful Autumnal fruiting show early this year.

Originating from Peru, Physalis became commonly known as the Cape Gooseberry due to its rise in popularity and cultivation in South Africa in the 1800’s. It is now known under a variety of names – Chua, Physalis, Giant Ground Cherry, Golden Berry, Peruvian Ground Cherry, Peruvian Cherry, Poha, Jam Fruit, and Uvula and I’m sure there are many others!

During the summer months it displays almost inconspicuous, but pretty, yellow flowers with a blotchy chocolate  centre.  In its fruiting stage you never even realise that the fruit is forming. Its fruits are secreted inside a delicate, decorative, papery, orange pod.  But inside DSC01084this protective sac lies the maturing fruit …. the bright orange fruits that are the size of a small tomato.

Gradually during late Autumn, the papery sheath fades and loses its cellular structure leaving behind its magical skeleton.  They are eaten raw and are great in fruit salads though in some parts of the world they are often served with Avocado. They are also great for making pies or jam with if you have a glut …as may well have this year.Physalis husk

These are supposed not to be hardy in the UK, but mine thrive year on year. I do take root cuttings and keep then overwinter them in the greenhouse  But I would almost describe them as invasive as their roots undermine my lawn, rockery …. etc