Physalis longifolia (Long-leaf Ground Cherry)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Solanaceae (Potato)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun;
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:12 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: bell

[photo of flower] Nodding stalked flowers arising singly from leaf axils along branching stems. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, bell-shaped with 5 shallow lobes, pale yellow with darker yellowish to greenish to purple-brown spots on the inside at the base of the throat, sparsely hairy on the outer surface. Inside are 5 stamens with creamy yellow or purplish tips (anthers).

[close-up of calyx hairs] The calyx has 5 pointed lobes, is 10-veined with minute appressed hairs mostly just along the veins and along the edge. Flower stalks are up to ¾ inch long and also minutely appressed-hairy.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, medium to dark green, lance-elliptic, blunt at the tip, 1 to 5 inches long, up to 3 inches wide, toothless to irregularly toothed around the edges, on a stalk up to 1½ inches long. Surfaces are mostly hairless but may have scattered, minute, appressed hairs especially along major veins.

[close-up of stem hairs] Stems are erect, many branched, angled, green to purplish, mostly hairless except for scattered, minute hairs along the angles. Plants can form colonies from spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a green berry that turns yellow when ripe. The persistent calyx inflates and becomes a papery shell shaped like an inverted tear drop that swells up and dries to tan as the fruit matures.


Long-leaf Ground Cherry is native to much of the US but is not recognized as native to Minnesota by the DNR. It's never been officially recorded here, but that does not mean it doesn't exist. Perhaps just overlooked. We encountered a small population just outside McKnight Prairie in Goodhue County in 2010 but it didn't register as a new (to us) species at the time. Looking back at old images from 2002, we discovered it was also somewhere in Winona County, probably just north of Winona. Then we were recently contacted about a population on private property in Hennepin County, which had been there for several years and starting to expand into a sizable colony. Is it actually native here? The national map indicates it may be but that is for others to decide. In all the above cases it was in disturbed soils—roadsides, old fields, and a restoration—and probably not planted or escaped from cultivation. Possibly transported by birds or vehicles from a native population.

The flowers are much the same as the other yellow-flowered Ground Cherries in Minnesota, but Long-leaf Ground Cherry is distinguished by its robust growth (to 3+ feet tall and colony-forming), essentially hairless leaves and stems, and the calyx with hairs mostly just along the veins. Both Clammy Ground Cherry (Physalis heterophylla) and Virginia Ground Cherry (P. virginiana) are smaller plants (often about 1 foot tall) and hairier all over, with more spreading hairs. There are 2 recognized varieties of P. longifolia, both of which may be in Minnesota. Documentation on the vars is poor, but best guess is: var. longifolia has a mostly western distribution, less toothly leaves and yellow anthers on flowers; var. subglabrata (a.k.a. P. subglabrata) has a mostly eastern distribution, more toothly leaves and purplish anthers. Minnesota is at the northern edge of where their ranges overlap.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Goodhue County and a private residence in Hennepin County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue and Winona counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Gabe Miller - Goodhue Co.
on: 2018-08-24 12:05:52

I have debated for several years on whether this species is here in my area in Goodhue Co. Looking at my voucher photos, the presence of the recurved hairs along the stems and fruits sure keep me thinking this is what I have found. Peter, if you come down for that Rorripa collection, perhaps we may have to investigate this.

Posted by: Robert Ford - Madison Minnesota
on: 2019-08-29 10:05:47

Lac qui Parle County. Saw this on a friends property just outside of Madison on 8/20/19. Wasn't sure of the name so took a couple pictures and ask the web.

Posted by: Rev. Gerry Beyerl - Houston county
on: 2020-05-08 10:45:00

Last summer, i discovered this plant growing in one of our garden areas. It is back this year and had indeed spread (in an underground line) into four separate plants. Looking forward to the lovely yellow flowers!

Posted by: Kaarin Foede - Carver County
on: 2020-07-19 09:23:21

We have started seeing this in the ditch and along the edges of our small CRP acreage.

Posted by: Sharon - Burnsville
on: 2020-08-17 16:52:04

I noticed these along the bicycle path between Black Dog Lake and the river in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Posted by: Michelle Yarmakov - SE MN - near Sakatah Lake and bike trail
on: 2020-08-23 21:50:47

I have a picture that I can send / email.

Posted by: Ardyce Ehrlic - St Paul
on: 2020-09-04 10:41:34

I found one of these plants next to my fence in the alley. Only one plant and never seen one before! Very poor soil and light conditions

Posted by: Winona Vold - Darwin
on: 2021-07-19 10:30:44

I have one of these growing by my house! It first came up in 2019, and now has a solid footing without any additional care on my part. I did not plant it intentionally, it just showed up.

Posted by: Terry O'Neill - St Paul
on: 2021-07-20 09:31:20

I live in the Highland Park area, across the river from Fort Snelling. Along Shepherd Road (cross street Gannon) there's one spot that has a patch of ground cherries. I just got an app call Picture This that identifies two species there - long leaf ground cherries and cut leaf ground cherries - not sure that's accurate. The plants aren't flowering yet so can't check certain features. I see the papery pods in the winter and spring but until now have been unable to separate these from the other wild plants they cohabitate with - to see what foliage belongs to the ground cherries.

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager
on: 2022-07-21 11:14:01

A few of these plants just showed up in my yard. I am very surprised considering they aren't supposed to be here. I also have a lot of the usual Ground Cherry which look a lot different.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-07-22 08:46:54

Pat, like many other species, this Physalis is very likely under-reported in Minnesota.

Posted by: Bruce Baer - Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge
on: 2022-09-19 16:32:52

This was growing on the banks of Sand Creek at Louisville Swamp.

Posted by: Linda Kettner - South Central between Mankato and St. Peter
on: 2022-09-22 20:59:34

This plant is growing wild all along the roadside ditch on Township 140, Kasota...also known as 470th Street.

Posted by: Katy Gillispie - Dennison, Goodhue County
on: 2023-07-23 08:07:30

Found 3 plants in a former vegetable garden that I abandoned a year ago, and didn't plant anything in this year. They are only about a foot tall, but it's been very dry. Quite unusual looking.

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