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Wild Ground Cherries

August 20th, 2009

One day while reading Skippy’s Garden Blog I came across her post about wild tomatillos. I immediately recognized that I have these growing in my garden. At first I thought they were a weed, but when I saw this post I knew this is what they were. I knew they were members of the nightshade family (like a few other weeds in my gardens).
I’ve had them growing in my garden for quite a few years, but I’ve never eaten them. I always thought they looked like the ground cherries we grew when I was young. I guess I’ll have to let them mature and see what they are for sure, but I think they’re wild ground cherries.
I only have one or two plants so I don’t think they’ll produce that much fruit. I found this article on Mother Earth News about them. Looks like some jam may be in my future.

Do you have any wild edibles growing in you gardens?

15 Comments to “Wild Ground Cherries”
  1. Mangochild on August 20, 2009 at 5:53 am

    No wild edibles, but I’ve always wondered: How do they start? I mean, are the wild plants you find volunteers or left-behinds from someone else’s garden? Or are they just from scattered seed?
    .-= Mangochild´s last blog ..The Impact of “Kitchen Gardening” =-.

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  2. Dave on August 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I had a couple at my neighbors house for the first time the other day. Very interesting taste. It’s hard to describe but good!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..A Natural Stone Bench =-.

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  3. Frugal Trenches on August 20, 2009 at 10:22 am

    No, no garden sadly but I live vicariously through you!
    .-= Frugal Trenches´s last blog ..The £5 Weekly Shop! =-.

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  4. the inadvertent farmer on August 20, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Yes wild blackberries grow with abandon here, in fact they are the reason we got goats. This afternoon in fact the kids and I are going picking so we can make blackberry jam and syrup, yummy! Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Tomato Napper… =-.

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  5. ChicagoMike on August 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    If you know where to go in the forest preserves here you can find pears, apples, and raspberries by the truckload.

    But you have to beat others in the more accessible places. I have found the perfect place for raspberries that nobody else goes (for some totally mysterious reason), but somebody already raided the apples I was waiting for.

    Those ground cherries have very different leaves than mine, but the blooms look identical.

    And my experience this year (my first) with ground cherries is the more you pick, the more they produce.
    .-= ChicagoMike´s last blog ..Ruralrose, You Win The Prize! =-.

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  6. Daphne on August 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Nope. I ought to go out to the back hill and pick wild blueberries, but I never do. It takes so long to pick them. If they were highbush ones I’d do it in a second, but the little ones on the ground are so much harder to pick. I do pick some when I’m hiking in the area, but I don’t collect any.

    Your plant looks so much like my pineapple tomatillo, which is a kind of ground cherry. I’m enjoying them, but they don’t produce very much.
    .-= Daphne´s last blog ..Tomatoes Again? =-.

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  7. Rebecca on August 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Do they turn red? If so, we totally have some in our flower bed. I thought it was a Chinese Lantern plant though. I do know that the chinese lantern fruit or leaves or something has been known to cause spontaneous abortion so I won’t be trying it this year. (I am 5 months pregnant.)
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Changes in Flight Times, holiday travel stress =-.

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  8. elephant's eye on August 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Look like Cape gooseberries? Will the fruit be a rather lovely golden yellow? And the “cape” goes a golden brown. They come from China, and tend to grow wild in gardens here in the Cape. But the cape in their name, is the little lantern/overcoat. Fruit is good raw or cooked. Lots of tiny seeds (like a strawberry’s)

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  9. Dan on August 20, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I remember trying a ground cherry at my Grandma’s place and it was awful. I’m thinking it wasn’t ripe though. I thought at first she was feeding me a poisonous nightshade :-) So what do they taste like when ripe?
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Garden Meals =-.

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    • Susy on August 20, 2009 at 11:52 pm

      In Colombia they make jam out of them and they’re quite tasty. I think that’s about the only way I like them. I think they kind of taste like a cross between a cherry and a tomato.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Freija Fritillary on August 24, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    From a glance, they look to me to be tomatillos indeed. Our ground cherries have a soft fuzz on the leaves and stems, and tend more toward a low sprawling habit. The tomatillos are smooth leaved and tall bushy plants. Both of these plants have naturalized in the garden and I’m coaxing along a few early volunteers where room allowed in the garden, hoping to squeeze a few late fruits out of them before frost. Hope you get some ripe fruits too. btw, I have successfully saved seed from mature, but still green ground cherry fruit, if you were hoping to save seed from these and grow them next spring…

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  11. Freija Fritillary on August 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    ps. ground cherries are really nice dried too, the pineapple flavor comes out a bit. They are great in cookies and granola, like raisins but exotic!
    .-= Freija Fritillary´s last blog ..Fungal diseases in the garden =-.

    Reply to Freija Fritillary's comment

    • Susy on August 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks, I may try to dry these. I’ll have to grow some ground cherries next year. I’m growing grapes to make raisins, we love them in oat groats. I’m always looking for things that dry easily to limit energy usage in preservation! Now all I need is for Mr Chiots to build me a solar dehydrator.

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  12. Louis on May 9, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Tomatillo are found at any Mexican grocery store. There is also
    Tomtillo salsa sold in glass containers at these store. Its an everyday
    Food item for some people like me.

    Reply to Louis's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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