CAPE-GOOSEBERRY

CAPE GOOSEBERRY

Physalis peruviana

Nightshade Family [Solanaceae]

Flowers:
month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZgreen berryZyellow berryZorange  (edible when ripe)
berry8sep berry8sept berry8oct berry8nov

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
inner
inner8black
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
(1)
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
An erect perennial plant growing to 1m high, spreading by underground rhizomes.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are Ace-of-Spades (aka cordate) in shape. The plant is densely hairy almost all over, especially on any ribs or veins.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
It has pale-yellow petals which are out-stretched by 5 ribs to form a 5-section umbrella shape.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The 5 pale-yellow petals have a dark-purple blotch on across the rib forming what looks similar to a symmetrical and kaleidoscopic Rorscharch Blotch pattern on the inside of the flower. Stems are variously angular with ribs, roundish, or square and hairiest on any edges.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The Rorscharch Blot Test. What does the reader see? Even the petals are hairy, especially on the edges, but the hairs are shorter than those on the stems. The edible yellow berry (not shown) forms later from the ovary (beneath the green discoidal stigma) and grows to 12-20mm across. There are 5 initially black anthers on short, black, square filaments surrounding the style and stigma. The black anthers open to reveal white pollen grains. No other part of this plant apart from the yellow berry is edible; it does, after all, belong to the Nightshade Family Solanaceae. This berry is quite often served as a dressing on restaurant food together with the surrounding calyx (which should not be eaten).


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The 'Rorscharch blotches' are also visible on the reverse side of the petals. This specimen has still to open it's 'umbrella' fully. The very hairy 5-toothed green calyx in which the flower sits will eventually lose the petals and close up again before growing further to become the inflated 'lantern' which contains the large yellow berry which turns orange when ripe. They are usually served within the now papery-thin fawn-coloured calyx, which should be discarded.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
Here the green sepals have lost the petals, closed up again and grown larger.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
They have the 10 dark purple ribs which the sepals bore beforehand.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The dark ribs have shorter hairs. The calyx has now fused all the way to the tip. When nearly ripe, the inflated calyx will be 3-5 cm and orange with the smaller berry not filling the cavity. When the berry is ripe the calyx will be papery thin and fawn-coloured. The berry will be yellow to orange and when sliced open will resemble a small Tomato (which is also in the Solanacea family) with many small seeds inside. It will taste sweetish.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
Some new leaves growing from the branch axil. Note both the square and round stems.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The Ace-of-Spades leaves.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
Top view. Many curved veins with net veins between them.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
The obverse of the leaves is hairier, especially on the veins.


23rd Aug 2017, an allotment, Leeds. Photo: © RWD
From underneath, the veins are hairy raised ribs.


7th Nov 2017, an allotment, Greater Manchester. Photo: © Maggie Mackay
Eventually the calyx dries to a papery-thin and fragile casing which is fawn colour, with a smaller egg-yolk coloured edible berry within. The stalk is still attached. Many are still closed and contain their berry.


7th Nov 2017, an allotment, Greater Manchester. Photo: © Maggie Mackay
The veins of the 5-sided calyx are now much more visible. The berry a featureless uniform orange-yellow colour.


Not to be semantically confused with : Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) [a plant with similar name belonging to a differing family (Grossulariaceae)]

Easily mistaken for : Japanese Lantern (Physalis alkengi) but that has an orange inflated sepal containing a red to orange berry.

There are also, in the same Physalis genus, Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) with a green to purple berry which completely fills the inflated yellow calyx and Large-flowered Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) which is similar to Tomatillo but has larger flowers and is obfuscated by a number of cultivars.

Some similarities to : Apple-of-Peru (Nicandra physaloides) to which the specific epithet alludes, but that has pale-blue and white flowers. Although this plant is also in the Nightshade Family (Solanaceae), it is in a differing genera to that of Cape Gooseberry and Japanese Lantern.

Vague similarities to : Orange-Peel Clematis (Clematis tangutica) but this has only four petals (rather than the 5 of Japanese Lantern) and are yellow as are Cape Gooseberry flowers and which initially forms a similarly drooping and apparently closed pointed structure but, unlike the green to orange to to fawn-coloured caged-sepals of Cape Gooseberry, these are not fused together and will open slightly.

No relation to : Cape Pigweed (Amaranthus capensis), Cape Pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos), Cape Cudweed (Gnaphalium undulatum), Cape Tulip (Homeria collina), Cape Marguerite (Osteospermum ecklonis), Cape Wattle (Paraserianthes lophantha) or Cape Figwort (hygelius capensis) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

Cape Gooseberry is a neophyte and a garden plant which sometimes escapes into the wild and is naturalised in Hertfordshire. It has an edible (when ripe) yellow to orange fruit but the rest of the plant has some toxins contained within, but despite being in the same Solanaceae family as Deady Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) these belong in a differing less toxic genera which has differing toxins to those of the more dangerous plants in the Nightshade Family (The black berries of Deadly Nightshade are toxic!). It tastes sweet and when dried and sold in the shops on its own without the papery calyx is known as Goldenberry (although your Author has never seen shops selling this).


  Physalis peruviana  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Solanaceae  

Distribution
 family8Nightshade family8Solanaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Physalis
Physalis
(Japanese-Lanterns)

CAPE-GOOSEBERRY

CAPE GOOSEBERRY

Physalis peruviana

Nightshade Family [Solanaceae]