Tag Archives: nightshade

Ground Cherries

Ground cherries are in the nightshade family. This family is famous for poisonous plants like black nightshade and belladonna. Equally famous are the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, favorite food crops.

ground cherry leaves

Ground cherry leaves are large with toothed edges yet a soft look perhaps because of their soft green coloring.

Unlike horse nettle, another family member, ground cherries have no thorns. They are poisonous so not very welcome in pastures but not common there as they prefer moist ground.

This is a banner year for ground cherries. They love the warm moist weather. The usually small plants are large and easily seen.

ground cherry flower

Ground cherry flowers hang down hidden under the leaves.

Hiding beneath the leaves are hanging flowers looking like full yellow dancing skirts. Looking into a flower the dark purple center is striking against the yellow.

inside ground cherry blossom

Hidden inside a ground cherry blossom are five purple patches setting off the extended stamens and pistil.

Later green lanterns hang from the branches. Inside each lantern is a round fruit considered ripe when the green paper husk dries and browns.

Indians ate these ground cherries. These fruits must be ripe or may be poisonous.

ground cherry fruit

A hanging green paper husk covers a developing ground cherry fruit.

I’ve never tried a ground cherry as most years creatures vanish with all of them before I find them. So last year I grew small ones called pineapple tomatillos. This year I have a tomatillo plant covered with flowers but the fruit isn’t there or else its coloring leaves it invisible to a casual inspection.

Maybe this year I can try the native ground cherry too as a big plant is growing along the wet weather creek beside the yard.