Physalis pruinosa (72 days) Open-pollinated. Though native to Central America, this heirloom was widely grown in Poland and is now on board the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Won over staffer Heron Breen who had previously been indifferent to husk cherries. “Sweet and zesty.” Some folks compare the flavor of these ½–¾" fruits to pineapple, some to tangerines. ②
4005 Aunt Molly’s - Organic
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Husk or Ground Cherries
About 900-1400 seeds/g.
A treat inside every paper wrapper! Same genus as Chinese Lantern and tomatillo, fruits ripen inside their protective husks. As clusters of berries sweeten, they turn from green to golden yellow, drop off the decorative branching plants, and reach perfection as their husks thin to a near-gossamer papery texture. The sweet berries have an indescribable flavor, great for raw snacks. Don’t eat them unripe—they can be a powerful emetic.
Culture: Need filtered light and temperatures at least 75°, preferably closer to 90°, to germinate. Cover seeds with just a light sprinkling of soil and place the flats in the hottest part of the greenhouse, transplanting after last spring frost. Husk cherries tolerate a touch of frost but give up when temperatures dip below 30°. In a good year, about half will ripen in time. Will readily self sow, although volunteers may not mature as quickly as those started indoors.
Pests: To protect plants against potato beetles, use floating row cover. Adults overwinter and lay eggs on solanaceous crops, especially tomatillos and husk cherries. If beetles get in, hand-picking adults and squishing eggs helps in small plots.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.