Physalis heterophylla (Clammy Ground Cherry)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; sandy prairies, waste areas, open woods, thickets|
|Bloom season:||June - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers hang down on hairy stalks that arise from a leaf axil. Flowers are about ¾ inch across, bell-shaped with 5 shallow lobes, pale yellow with dark greenish to purple-brown spots on the inside at the base of the throat, densely hairy on the outer surface. There are 5 creamy yellow stamens with yellow or purple tips. The calyx has 5 pointed lobes and is densely covered in long hairs. One plant has a few to about a dozen flowers on branching stems.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, alternately attached, softly hairy with a few coarse teeth around the edges and a stalk averaging 1 inch long. The shape is somewhat irregular, but is generally egg-shaped with a rounded base and pointed tip. The color is often a bit yellowish green and the edges may be a little wavy. Stems are branched, weakly angled, and covered in long soft hairs.
The flowers of Clammy Ground Cherry are nearly identical to those of Virginia Ground Cherry (Physalis virginiana), which is distinguished by leaves that are narrower and mostly toothless. The fruit of both species are edible when ripe. A third species that is uncommon in Minnesota, Long-leaf Ground Cherry (Physalis longifolia), also has similar flowers but is mostly hairless. There are 2 recognized varieties of P. heterophylla: var. rowellii that is found only in Texas, and var. heterophylla found across the US, including Minnesota, and into Canada.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos by Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?