Ground Cherry results

solanaceaeJuly 14, 2008

Here it is. My first year growing.

I can add to the sentiment that is is curious why this is such an exotic plant( meaning few people seem to grow it). I have tried the first few fruits and have allowed others to do so as well. Everyone seems to like them. It is much like a very sweet tomato but when its particularly ripe the sweetness level increases and is very berry like.

I will be growing these in the future and is certainly a good producer. If someone is looking to add a fruit like variety to the garden this is a great option.

Its a low sprawling plant and is well over 2 feet wide.

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I have tried to grow these in the past, but they didn't do very well for me. Every one of them died and I was heartbroken. I had heard that you could make a tasty jam with the fruit and wanted to try it. Needless to say, I never got a chance to make it. I'm glad to see that they are doing well for you.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:22AM
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I grew a plant last year (Aunt Molly's) just out of curiosity, and confined it to a 4 liter ice cream pail. It was a prolific producer even under those harsh conditions.

Tasty little morsels while you're tooting around in the garden. I found that the fruit tasted best when it had fallen from the plant, and had just a slight hint of pineapple.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:21AM
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A friend gives me seed every year, cause I forget and pull the old plants out in the fall without saving seed. I do get some self-seeded plants tho, just gotta watch because of that imposter weed. I've always picked them both when they're ripe in the hulls or even half-ripe; those I put in a paper bag in the pantry. They ripen later.

I love ground cherry pie, a little sweet; but nice. Tarts are good,too. It's always fun to mention ground cherries to city folk, who can't grasp the idea! ha.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:00PM
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My kids asked if those cherries grow "underground". Of course I said yes.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:39PM
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Here's a link from the University of Hawaii with regard to the ground cherry. It is called Poha and is used to make a terrific jam. I wish I could grow it here in Kansas. I bought some seeds a few years ago and got nothing but leaves, no berries at all. I was so disappointed. Schoolhouse, I'd sure pay you for some seed so I can try again.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:40PM
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Hello aulani,

I acquired the seed from here.

The first comment is "Very easily grown, sprawling." . I have to say that is the result. I have had a lot of luck from the seeds here including red robin Toms(a great low light dwarf) and leaf celery.

I have seen mixed reviews about the site in general(seemed to be a bad year in 2007) but then happy customers rarely post. I may not depend on it for my main seed source but for eclectic and unusual varieties especially for containers its certainly worth a try for a few packets of seeds.

Here is another source that seems to focus on heirlooms.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 1:36PM
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plant-one-on-me(MI 5b)

I just started getting ripe fruit from my Aunt Molly's. So far they have lots of fruit and I found them easy to grow. I already saved seed for next year...very eash just squash one with a fork, rinse in a collander and put on a piece of paper to dry. The seeds are really tiny! Going to see if I can find a pie and jelly recipe (any suggestions?). Taste like a ??? pineapple maybe, to me kinda like a very mild lime flavor.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:39PM
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Solanacaea, Thanks so much for that link to seeds. I will certainly order some and try again.

Plant-one-on-me, Yes, the seeds are very tiny. The poha or ground cherry jam I'm familiar with uses lemon rind as part of the recipe. I used to buy the jam from a place in Hawaii, but it got soooooo expensive. Here's a recipe:

When my sister used to live on the Big Island of Hawaii, she and her friends used to gather these berries wild and sell them to the company that makes the jam.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Pie recipe:

Between 2 or 3 cups of ground cherries mostly ripe

Up to 1c of sugar or Splenda
1 Tbls minute tapioca or corn starch
1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbls lemon juice, dot inside with butter-2 tsp
Add, if desired, 3 tsp of almond extract
Add top crust & bake at 400 for 10 minutes,
Turn oven down to 350 for 45 additional minutes.

When planting my grd.cherry seed, I just put the entire hull in the ground, seeds will sprout; and it's much easier than trying to deal with the tiny seed. Aulani, I would gladly give you some seed, for no money; but I have no idea what variety I grow. In fact, I didn't know there WAS specific varieties! I thought ground cherries were ground cherries. ha. I've planted all the seed I had this Spring, so let me know later this summer if you still are interested in some hulls.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:37PM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Just wanted to say thanks for starting this thread. I'd never heard of these before but I'll be trying them next year!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:51PM
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Hi Schoolhouse,

I just e-mailed you. What a great idea to plant the hulls and not worry about those tiny seeds. Wow, good for you. Will wait to hear from you. I'm excited to try again.

Everyone else, I'm happy to have found this thread too. The taste of Poha, or ground cherry is something I crave from time to time because I am from Hawaii originally. It's one of those tastes you grow up with and never forget. Also, I added a heavy dose of phosphorous to my garden this year and everything is just going crazy. I'm hoping that the ground cherries will benefit from that when I plant them next year thanks to Schoolhouse.

I'm so pleased.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 10:12PM
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Thanks for the responses. I certainly have learned a bit more including seeding by the husk and the Hawaiian connection.

Indeed there are varieties of ground cherries. I think the one in the photo is Aunt Molly but I mixed them up as I did with Toms this year. The other in a hanging pot may be "Cossack Pineapple". I also found a variety called Cape Gooseberry though I don't have that one now.

It is said to do well in poor soil and may be good for light feeder duty in soil rotations.

The plants and unripe fruit contain Solanine and probably other alkaloids, just like Tomatoes so brown husks and ripe fruit off the ground is best. They are clever plants that punish eating the fruit until its ripe and able to seed.

I certainly was intrigued all winter and as you can probably tell I did a lot of reading on it. It really is a true heirloom since it was much more popular in the past and I have read many comments such as "I don't remember that taste since my grand mother used to make it etc". I think it is considered labor intensive commercially and may have simply fallen off the radar. I suppose the first instinct is to grow the food you know in the super market. I never saw any seed on the rack.
The fruit is said to last for months in good storage. This is not a feat possible for the typical berry. It literally grows wild so it should be easy to grow in many places. Considering it does well in poor soil, is fast growing that does well in temperate climates with a sweet pleasant taste I don't know why it is not always next to the beans.

Here is a nice long article from Perdue University. Once again it repeats the basic theme, why is this not a regular in the garden? I had not even heard of it until last year.

"It is surprising that this useful little fruit has received so little attention in the United States in view of its having been reported on with enthusiasm by the late Dr. David Fairchild in his well-loved book, The World Was My Garden. He there tells of its fruiting "enormously" in the garden of his home, "In The Woods", in Maryland, and of the cook's putting up over a hundred jars of what he called "Inca Conserve" which "met with universal favor." It is also remarkable that it is so little known in the Caribbean islands, though naturalized plants were growing profusely along roadsides in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica before 1913."

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 12:09AM
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plant-one-on-me(MI 5b)

Thanks for the great recipes! I cannot wait to try some. When they start coming in really strong I plan on saving seeds to share.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 8:09AM
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Great information, solanaceae. I understand now your use of "solanaceae" for your user name. It's the scientific name for ground cherry. So cool!

This has been such an interesting thread with so much good information. Now that you mention "Cape Gooseberry," that is the one I had planted several years ago with lots of foliage and no fruit. But I believe there was too much nitrogen involved and not enough phosphorous. The University of Hawaii article mentions the need for phosphorous. I can't wait to try again next spring with seeds from schoolhouse.

Am going to read that Purdue article now. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 8:47AM
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Amish in my area sell them in quart containers (like strawberries). My friend Lucinda told me that of the seed from last fall (planted this Spring), probably 1/2 will produce plants NEXT Spring. I planted mine the last week of June (a little late) and some plants are now in bloom,not all.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 11:04AM
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That is amazing to me. Imagine that all these years, I thought these wonderful fruits were only available in Hawaii since I had grown up with them. When I couldn't get them to produce fruit here in Kansas, I was convinced that they would only really produce in Hawaii. Now comes all this marvelous information that they are being produced in Ohio which is colder than here in Kansas. I feel like I've been reborn!!! Would you believe I'd been paying twelve bucks for a jar of jam from Hawaii?

Oh my. Schoolhouse, girl, I can't wait. In fact, I've already taken pictures of the yellow coneflower I'm sending you and put them in an envelope waiting for the seeds to develop. The plant I planted in the spring is just full of flowers right now, and four feet tall. It will get even taller.

Tell me, how much room do these ground cherry plants take? Do they sprawl? I know the literature says you can stake them. I will give them their own raised bed.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 12:26PM
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Ha ha, you need to move to Amish country. Lots of heirloom things you don't get at SprawlMart.

The plants will come up thick if you plant hulls then need to be thinned, sometimes better if you crush the hulls and scatter the seed. I don't bury the seed into the ground if I plant that way, just scatter seed on top of soil, throw soil ontop of them just enough to cover and firm down. I've never staked mine, maybe it depends upon the variety; mostly I plant and ignore. And, yes, they grow like weeds; I usually plant them along the edge of the garden or just in a small spot. You can get alot of fruit from a few plants - you'll get anxious for them to ripen cause it seems to take a spell. Remember, you can pick them half ripe if frost is coming and put in a paper bag. They'll ripen like some pear varieties do.

My friend Lucinda (seed saver) says it depends upon the growing season if they can be planted this late in July; mine were planted towards end of June I think. Anyway, you can try the seed I send right away and then save some for next year. You can be our tester and report back if they grow and produce before this fall. Ok? Plus, I'll send fresh seed from mine later.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 1:20PM
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Hello schoolhouse,

Is there any storage advice on the hull? Does one just let it dry out until planting? I will probably start from seed indoors. This plant was started among the Toms under a grow light. Thanks for some great info.

Hello aulani,

I am in Chicago so Kansas should be no problem at all. Also, as was indicated, these do well in poor soils so if you use any kind of fertile application I would keep it well done compost. That way no quick burst of nitrogen which could retard fruit. This is in peat, vermiculite, commercial compost and some blended homemade compost about six inches deep and no fert.There is decent top soil underneath but I will check the root depth once the season is over.

And what I have is certainly a sprawler as can be seen in the photo. It is in a circle of at least 20 crescent shaped edging bricks. 2+ feet apart seems like an ideal space but 18" may be possible if one likes to pack them in. A stake and a rope could be used to pull them up as can be done with bush zucchini but that is just a guess as of now. I tend to pack stuff in but only on what I know.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 3:13PM
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Thank you for more information. I feel rich, rich, rich! You know, I don't think that the seeds you send will produce this year. By mid October we are already having frost so there's not that much time. Instead I will plant them early next spring as soon as frost is over. I already have a spot picked out.

Hi Solanaceae,

Yes, I was reading about how they do better in poor soils. My soil is just like yours, typical Mel's Mix -- peat, vermiculite, commercial compost and some of my own homemade compost. I grow in raised beds, no bottoms, just garden soil.

Imagine, in Hawaii, they grow wild up in the mountains and people hike up there to get them. Great day trip because there are many wild things in the mountains of Hawaii -- guavas, ginger, mangoes, bamboo, mountain apples, and refreshing waterfalls. Soil in the mountains is just made up of whatever composts naturally.

I was fascinated by all the different names given this fruit by the different countries where it grows. Of course I call it Poha. POE ha.

Isn't this neat?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 6:17PM
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"Is there any storage advice on the hull? Does one just let it dry out until planting?"

Yes, you can pick the ripe/almost ripe hulls, leave the fruit inside, put them in a paper bag; and they will dry up and become a flat looking crispy thing with seeds in it over time. Grd. Cherries keep a long time in the hull for eating, the older they are the sweeter. But don't eat when rotten! ha.

From my personal experience, I've let the dried hulls that have ripened and fallen from the plant to the ground just lay there and then when I'm tearing the plants up in the fall, shove some of the hulls (with cherry inside) under the dirt. You see, grd. cherries as I know them, will self-seed this way naturally; maybe not 100% but very likely you'll have some babies come up next Spring on their own even if you don't purposely plant them. As I said before, they're almost like a weed. Plus, I already mentioned that there IS a week that resembles the ground cherry plant - is it called Nightshade? I should look it up to be sure. That is NOT good to eat - can make you sick. Gets purple flowers I think, no fruit. But, you might think you have grd.cherry when it's really Nightshade. Around here, anyway, both grow in the gardens.

I tend to cultivate my entire garden in the Spring and suddenly remember I've tilled the grd.cherry plants under! So there goes my baby plants. Have never been one to start seed indoors, so I can't be of much help in that regard.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 7:49PM
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OK, I feel kind of stupid asking this but I'd never even heard of a ground cherry before this spring. --My plant is growing like mad and producing lots of fruit but I have no idea how to tell when they're ripe. Can someone help me out here?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:15PM
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Hello leafygreens,

My plant is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 feet wide. Its a monster so I know what you mean. A no brainier way is to simply wait for it to fall on the ground. They are sweeter the longer you wait and I like to wait until they are a yellow orange and they will not have a hint of green on the husk.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:29PM
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cyumickey(Sunset 18)

I'm jealous. I bought poha berry seeds from tradewindsfruit, but couldn't get them started. Any tricks? Of course, I had a lot of problems starting anything from seed this year, but I was really hoping to get the poha...

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 5:25PM
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Harvest season update.

The plant is certainly bigger and is producing about 15 berries a day. Its about 4 feet wide now. I have another in a container that is smaller. It simply adjusts to its space.

I saved a bit of the harvest. The smell is wonderful and a bit like candied pine apple. The taste is also pineapple like but completely unique. The texture is certainly tomato like. This is about 3 cups of berries that I allowed to ripen. Even husk off they keep well at least a few weeks.

Used these for a pie of course.

I am completely surprised by the result. I just had it today. It tastes like a combination of tropical fruit/pineapple and suggestions of butter scotch. It completely exceeded my expectation. To put it in context I have recently made apple and peach pie with fruit directly from the tree aka as fresh as possible. This fruit is not a second rate substitute by any means. It is in fact a superior ingredient on its own let alone its novelty. This closes the book for me on the original comment. Why is this not in every garden? What a plant....

I had a lot of trouble researching ground cherries and I could find photos of the fruit but rarely the plant at any stage. I hope this helps another who had the same problem I did.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 11:57PM
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This fruit is very popular here in Colombia. It is called uchuva and grows very well at high elevations. We have a place at 7500 feet (2400 meters) and it is commonly grown in the area. Temps there range between about 50F (night) and 70-72F (day.) It also grows a lower elevations where it is warmer.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 6:41AM
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Congrats on your success, solanaceae. Lookin' good! I can smell that pie through the monitor. The hulls on my plants are still green, as I planted late; but it will be a bumper crop.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:55AM
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My mother grew these and loved them - they came up year after year on their own acord and needed just to be thinned. Personally I found the flavor a bit flat but...
You can use any peach recipe and substitute ground cherries if you want pie, jam, jelly, whatever. They need pectin and acid to set but so do peaches. I also made a pretty good ginger conserve with fresh ginger, ground cherries and white raisins.
With a little lemon juice they make a fairly good sauce, as in apple sauce. To serve over cake or hot biscuits or whatever, with or without ice cream and whipped cream.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:27PM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Thanks for giving us an update, solanaceae. I can't wait to try these next year!

oldroser, you are a good cook!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:45PM
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I am dying to know how you keep your ground cherries from getting the little white worm in them. I don't remember having this problem when my mom grew them years ago. I have been trying every few years for the past 30 and everytime I go to husk the berries- over 1/2 have a hole at the blossom end with a little, sometimes not so little, white worm inside. I grew them again this year after waiting 7 years. I just gathered a big basket full and alas, again, there the little critters are again this year. I want a pie so bad. Can you help me?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 4:44PM
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shellyb54, never saw worms inside mine. That being said, I picked up a handful of husks from under the plants this morning, hope I don't find worms! I popped a cherry in my mouth without even looking, too. Ugh. I'll ask my friend if she's ever experienced wormy ground cherries and if so what's to be done.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 5:25PM
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How exciting to see those beautiful poha berries, solanaceae. Seeing them makes my day. What a great thread this has been. I can't wait to plant the seeds I got in the mail this coming spring. Thank you schoolhouse. BTW, your giant coneflower seeds are drying nicely.

The famous poha jam from Hawaii uses a little lemon juice and rind. What a distinct flavor those berries have. Pectin is a must.

Old roser, your ginger conserve sounds wonderful! Great idea with the raisins. I just made hot pepper/ginger/peach jam yesterday. I like that on muffins when mornings are frosty.

Shellyb, I'm afraid you're gonna have to spray for those critters. If not Sevin, then Rotenone. These berries are much too precious to let the worms get the best of you.

Again Solanaceae, great thread!!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 5:30PM
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Looks like I'll have plenty hulls to share, Aulani; so I'll be mailing fresh seed as I've promised. Giant flowers always have a home down in the "wild garden"! Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 8:36PM
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Solanaceae, I am growing 'Aunt Molly's' and one just called 'Husk Tomato' (got if off a seed rack, at Lowe's I believe).

The fruit in your picture look considerably bigger than mine, which seem to be only about 1/4 inch in diameter, some might be up to 1/2 inch. They've had plenty of water and fertilizer, so that isn't the issue, and they are producing tons of fruit, but I don't know why they are SO small. I've grown them in the past, and remember them as being larger?

So, my question is, how big are the ones in the photo, on average?

And, that pie is a low blow == I'm on a diet. (Looks wonderful, though).

SE Michigan

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Thanks Alani.

Hello Denninmi,

I am also using Ant Molly I think but possibly Cossack Pineapple. They are 1/2 inch typically but occasionally bigger as well as smaller but 90% fall into the 1/2 inch range.
As far as the comment about the flavor being flat I can say a yes and no. Its not an over powering flavor and not really going to compete with a blue berry or a bing cherry on that level where the sugar and acid content is much higher. Its a light more subtle flavor that is very nice on its own and one must be careful not to over power in certain contexts. However that is what surprised me with the pie. The usual sugar and butter supplements for the fruit made it one of the best pie ingredients I can remember having. It had a mission fig like consistency, probably because of the small seeds, and a kind of butter scotch like flavor all without being cloying which seems impossible when mentioning butterscotch and that is an approximation since it is as we all say unique. Again I did see comments along similar lines that this fruit really takes off in pies. It also sounds like jam may also bring out this unique fruit.

Sorry I cannot say about the worms but a photo might help others identify it and you may try google image to try and make an ID for "husk tomato" pests.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 12:24AM
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On grandma's Iowa farm they grew rampant all over the garden & what we kids didn't get to first, she picked the fallen husks, retrieved the fruit & made the best groundcherry pies!! Here in NM I got it started in the garden & it is coming up all over in the garden as well as flower beds, etc. I guess the birds carry & drop the seeds! It is now kind of a pest like the Sweet Annie but the leaves of both in Spring are distinctive so I can pull what I don't want to grow. Seems subsequent plants from prior years' seeds tend to produce smaller fruits though. Sure a chore to pick up the fallen fruit,remove from the husks enough to make a pie of jam though!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 3:26PM
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My friend Lucinda who gives me seed when I need it, says she has never heard of white worms in grd cherries. Just for imput.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 3:43PM
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cyumickey(Sunset 18)

dang...I tried to sprout some and they never took. I wonder if I tried to do it now while it's hot, if they would survive over winter? I'm in so cal so it may be ok...?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 4:19PM
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When did you harvest the seed or buy it? Last fall's seed may still grow if you plant it next Spring - 50/50 chance I'm told. But, then again I don't know anything about growing plants in So. California. If we did that back here in the Ohio, it wouldn't work on account of if the grd cherry plant doesn't grow and produce seed, you get no cherries (w/seeds). It dies in the fall, is not a perennial.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 6:11PM
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Hi Shellyb,

I'd suggest using Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) against the white worms. You can get it as a spray or powder, and it isn't as broad-spectrum of a killer as rotenone is, but still is organic. It only really targets worms/caterpillars and washes off just fine.

Whichever you choose, good luck! That must be so disappointing when you go to pick the fruit!


    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 8:10AM
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Can someone please tell me the difference between Aunt Molly & Cossack Pineapple?


    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 10:59PM
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Hello all,

I can confirm the presence of worms in the fruit. If I find any others I will try to photo document it. Its only been perhaps 20-30 berries which I will use as wads for seed. They are so far a minor pest and I plan to have more BT for SVBs next year anyway. They are easy to spot since the fruit is a bit damaged and usually shows when its yellow green.
I am trying to guess what it is but I have not found any good info on it. Perhaps I will see if I can get one to mature to get an idea of the adult form.
I am still very happy with the production but I will need to be alert and keep crop rotation over the years.

Hello vieja,

If you are allowing the birds to do your cultivating then that is likely the reason the berries are smaller since that is what the birds prefer. Wild cherries tend to be bird sized because of their selective pressure. Humans create selective pressure for larger fruit.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 5:04PM
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I made some jam today with some of my crop of ground cherries. I had about six cups of ripe husked berries, to which I added 4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice, 3 single-serving packets of dehydrated lemon juice, a package of sugar-free formula pectin, and I used about 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of Splenda.

It turned out really nice, flavor is good, pineapple-apricot-butterscotchy as described above in the pie, color is a deep amber yellow, and seeds are distributed evenly throughout. The recipe yielded 5 pint jars, plus about half a cup leftover. It has set up decently, not really firm, but like a soft fruit spread.

I think you were right, Solanaceae, when you described the texture/consistency as being fig-like -- especially if no additional liquid is added to the recipe. I wanted to include the pineapple juice to jazz up the flavor a bit without altering it too much. Next batch, though, I'm going to make without the added liquid, to try to get a thicker product.

SE Michigan

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 9:52PM
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Dennis, I sent your jam recipe to my friend. I don't think she's ever tried to make jam (maybe I'll get some of her efforts! ha)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 10:35PM
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Our county fair is in full swing right now. Just thought I'd share this photo that was in this morning's paper: (not my blue ribbon - belongs to a lady named Thelma G.)

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 1:26PM
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Great post, schoolhouse! They look so delicious.

Everyone, here's a real easy recipe for ground cherry jam like they fix it in Hawaii where they call it Poha.

Poha jam

3 lb. poha (ground cherries)
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar per cup cooked poha
1 Tbsp. lemon juice


Husk and wash fruit. Combine with water and cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let stand overnight.

Measure pulp and juice and combine with an equal quantity of sugar. Return to heat and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Add lemon juice and continue slow cooking until product reaches jelly stage.

Immediately pour into hot sterilized glasses and seal. (I froze my jam.)

Note: If you cook it to the jelly stage, there shouldn't be any reason to have to freeze it.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Does anyone have a jelly recipe for ground cherries. I hate seeds

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 12:38PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I love ground cherry pie. My grandmother had them in the garden and I have had them for years. They tend to germinate as volunteers in June and used to be my worst weed perhaps!
I tried planting them or letting them grow in a crowded fashion and that is when I had lots of insect damage. When left here and there in the garden, they have very few "worms".

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 7:31PM
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Here's another interesting link to poha. Check out the interesting way they have of planting by setting the plants inside a container with a little trellis and then keeping the container on top of landscape cloth. That would certainly keep the ground bugs off. Hmmmmm.....

Gillestessier, I'm not a jelly maker, but I'm guessing that you should be able to make jelly by making the jam recipe then straining in cheesecloth. Those seeds are real fine.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 6:23PM
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Bringing this back to the top.

How many different varieties of Ground Cherries are there?

Are some not good for fresh eating?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 9:57AM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

I actually have seeds from last year and you all have made me want to try them. I intended to plant them last year and had a medical diagnosis that prevented it, so I think I will see if I can get them to germinate.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:54AM
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reign(z5 NY)

I've been hooked since the first time I grew them. I grow Aunt Molly and Cossack Pineapple. After you grow them once, you never have to plant them again. Except to try new varieties. ;-)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 4:23PM
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Reign - Which one of those do you like better for fresh eating? Are they about the same size?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:54PM
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reign(z5 NY)

I like Aunt Molly better for fresh eating. Cossack was a little bigger. Not enough to matter.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:30AM
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I thought I would dig up a photo of my hanging container experiments. While not enough for pie on its own the plant will size itself to the container. Its more like an alpine straw berry in this role. You can plant them anywhere. I have seedlings ready to go this year but I may have already spotted some volunteers.

I will be rotating to another spot as I did have some late season worms taking about 25% of the berries but I also will have BT ready for them.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 12:35AM
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Hello all, I live in Austin TX and was wondering two things.
1)Is it too late to plant these? WE have a first frost usually in November.
2)This is my first summer EVER trying to grow anything from seed. I can send a SASE to anyone who is willing to share some seeds with me. I would be most appreciative.

Thanks and Blessings

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 2:43AM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

blessed garden,

I don't have any seeds to share until my ground cherries are ready to harvest. But you can order seeds pretty cheap from Pinetee.

They're listed as Pineapple Tomatillos and are a whole $1.10 per packet. That's $4.85 with shipping, and I'll bet you can't buy just one packet of seeds!

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 2:13PM
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I could send you some seed.
There are volunteers coming up where last years plants were. Around august they outproduced the kid's ability to eat them. Mine came from fedco. The packet contained about 500 seed, plenty to share...

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 4:11PM
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penserosa(z6 NJ)

So happy to find this thread. This is my first year growing Aunt Molly's ground cherries and some of them just don't look too nice. I collected them through the summer and let them sit in a single layer on my kitchen island. I didn't know if I'd have enough for a pie, so tonight I husked them - only about 1 1/4 cups of nice cherries.

Problem is, several of the fruits are rock hard, with a mottled appearance. (Sorta looks like human skin when it has a rash with edema.) Am I supposed to cook these too? Does anyone know what happened to them? I'm wondering if it could be the heat here in the Midatlantic this year, the way tomatoes have green shoulders in hot weather.

Here's a photo:


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:04PM
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I'm not sure about how they fare in zone 10. I planted a different variety (a name I can't recall), and I've never seen a "hard" one. I consider the fruit ripe when the husk is entirely dry and has no color, except perhaps for a tad of yellow due to the color of the fruit shwoing through. If you let them sit for too long they will get pale and nasty looking, but that takes some time. The way I harvest is as soon as I see a change from green to slightly yellow on the husk I life it gently. If it's ready it pops right off into my hand. I then leave it in the sun for about three days, at which point it's ready to eat and oh so sweet.

I don't see anything visually wrong with the fruits in your picture. The ones that are pale rashy look probably are getting old but should still be good. I've had them turn entirely white, at which point I throw them out,

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 6:01PM
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penserosa(z6 NJ)

Thanks, wild forager - it was really hard to get a picture that showed what I was talking about. The fruits were just really hard and looked like they had poison ivy!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 8:55PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana


It is likely too late to plant them now and get a good crop even though they are late comer uppers.

It sure is a great ground cherry year here. The volunteer plants are huge and loaded like never before. Whenever I sowed the seeds in continuous rows with 2 or 3 rows side by side, some insect would make a hole in most of the husks. So I just let one or two volunteer here and there and they are always ok.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:36PM
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I still am confused on the ripeness issue of ground cherries left in the husk. Some turn lovely orange. Others become "greenish-yellow" with the fruit being transparent so seeds are easily seen. The husks are dry, papery and tan. I want to be sure that these "greenies", as well as the golden ones with green shoulders, are safe to eat. Are cherries ripe and safe when the husk is dry no matter what the fruit looks like? Does it make a difference if they are picked from the plant or as "dropped" fruit?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 7:54PM
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I am in zone 9 it is May 19. Is it too late to plant them? and would any of you care to sell me some seeds please?
email me at
Thank you thank youuuuu :-D

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Thought I'd come back to this thread.

The worm is called Heliothis subflexa. Its a Physalis specialist.

These plants lack linolenic acid in the fruits which is usually defensive, but not in this case. The pest has adapted. I have certainly seen wild ground cherry in my area so that is the source. The worms will often travel from one cherry to the other as I have noticed and the article mentions. So do not pile in a bowl if you have this problem, and your loses will be far reduced.

If you are trying to get enough for a pie, you can freeze them very easily.

Berries that are not quite ripe will usually be a poorer flavor anyway due to low sugar and the possible lingering of the toxins. They are often infected by the worm when this is the case.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 5:49PM
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Okay, I just planted ground cherries for the first time and was enjoying them over the course of summer. Made a pie. Now when I went to make some jam, as I was shucking them, I noticed some worms in my bowl. Didn't think anything of it until I cut one open and found the worm inside. I found a few more and was wondering if all of them had a worm inside but it hadn't hatched yet. This really grossed me out because you can't see the worms until you cut them open. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 5:28PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I ONLY had insect trouble when I planted them concentrated together. The ...night make good protein.

Ground cherries volunteer like nothing else but purslane and amaranth.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Can one ground cherry still make fruit or do you need more then one plant? I only had one seedling survive when I set them out this summer. It's doing well but hasn't set fruit yet, maybe due to the extreme heat but I'm wondering if it's because it's by itself.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 2:55PM
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Some historical trivia: The first explorers, including Champlain, picked ground cherries on their voyages southward along the eastern seaboard. They are very closely related to the tomatillo, but they are not the same fruit.

My ground cherry is over 5 feet in diameter and sprawling beyond the raised bed. My #2 plant is in the front garden, and barely 10 inches across. I think full sun is imperative.

I planted Aunt Molly's. The seed packet warned they germinate poorly... about 60%. I found a heat mat under the seed tray helps germination.

When the fruit started dropping a month ago, there were only 3 or 4 a day. Now I am getting between 1 and 2 dozen a day, and there are many more nearly ripe.

I would sure appreciate someone telling just how ripe is RIPE. Lots of my early harvest still had a tinge of green when they fell off the vine. I kept putting them in a freezer bag, but now I am afraid to use them.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 9:45PM
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