Physalis, Andean berry

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The Andean berry (Physalis peruviana) is often known only under the name Physalis - which is strictly speaking incorrect because it is the generic name, which includes the tomato, the cherry and the bubble cherry. Their name Andenbeere has the fruit because of their origin - the Andean region in Peru and Chile - received. Another name is Cape Gooseberry, which derives from the fact that during the colonial period sailors brought the fruit from South America by sea to South Africa to the Cape of Good Hope and they were further cultivated there. In addition, the slightly sour taste of the Andean berry reminds of the gooseberry. In the roots and leaves of the Physalis, which belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), there are toxic alkaloids. The fruits are tasty and can be easily grown here in warm regions.

Appearance and growth

The Physalis is a strong-growing perennial that forms long rhizomes. Although it is actually perennial, but is cultivated in our latitudes because of their frost sensitivity only one year. The plant grows between one and sometimes even two meters high. Its leaves are heart-shaped and like their stems velvety and slightly hairy. The flowers of the Andean berry are yellow with black spots. From them eight to nine weeks after flowering, the green lanterns, which turn orange or light brown at harvest time, form.

yellow-green flowers

From the small yellow-green flowers gradually form the green lanterns

The fruits of the Cape Gooseberry wrapped in the lanterns are edible. They are as big as a cocktail tomato, taste sweet and sour and have a very high vitamin C content. For this reason, they used to be eaten mainly by sailors - to protect against scurvy. Today, the Physalis fruits are used in fruit salads or chutneys and are used to decorate desserts. Even dried, the fruits can be eaten.

Location and substrate

As the Physalis is a warm nightshade family, it prefers to grow its fruit in a warm, full sun, protected location and in a loosely and nutrient-rich soil that heats up slightly. Ideal conditions can be found in the mild wine-growing climate of the Upper Rhine Valley, for example. If you live in a region where there are nocturnal frosts early in the year, you will not enjoy the plant as it hardly produces fruit. The Andean berry thrives well in the bucket, but must then be wintered in the house.

Physalis in the greenhouse

The physalis is very sensitive to frost. Therefore, we can cultivate them perennially for several years only in the greenhouse or - in the winter in the house - in the bucket

You can also grow the Physalis in the greenhouse for several years. The disadvantage: The plants form then indeed plenty of leaf mass, but only few fruits. These also taste less sweet and aromatic than the cultivated in the field specimens.

Mixed culture and crop rotation

You should not plant Physalis in the same place every year. Also, a planting place, where previously other nightshade plants have stood, is not recommended.


The Physalis plants can be brought forward from mid-February in a warm and bright place. Seed the seeds in small pots with seed soil and set them as bright and warm as possible. Ideal are temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The seedlings initially grow slowly and must always be kept moist. After about three weeks, the plantlets are piked into pots. If you are repotted after a while in larger pots, they grow even faster. After the last frosts, the young plants can be planted in the field. The seeds are germinable for about two years.

Planting and care

Plant the preferred young plants after the last frosts at the end of May. Since the Physalis grows quite bushy, a distance of 80 x 80 or 100 x 100 centimeters is recommended. Water the Cape Gooseberry regularly, especially when planting flowers. However, waterlogging should be avoided. Since the shoots break off easily, the support of the bushy physalis has proven itself. Tie the main drives to a scaffold, grate, or individual bamboo sticks.
If you pinch off the young shoot tips, promote a bushy growth of the plant, with a regular outgrowth as with tomatoes is not necessary. A weak composting for planting is sufficient as fertilization.

Support shoots

The shoots of the physalis should be led upwards by means of supports or a grid


You can cultivate the Cape Gooseberry perennial, if you overwinter the plant. However, as it is very sensitive to cold, it is usually cultivated only once a year.If you keep the Physalis in the bucket, you can cut back the plant by two-thirds after the harvest and overwinter one in a bright place with temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Do not let the plant dry out in winter quarters. As of March, it should be gradually accustomed to higher temperatures and the sun, before it comes back outdoors.

Harvest and recovery

After about three to four months, seven to ten weeks after flowering, the fruits of Physalis are ready for harvest. If the lantern is light brown and dried, you can harvest the yellow-orange berries. Ripe fruits can be stored dry in the protective lanterns for several weeks at 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. The berries taste sweet and sour, their taste is reminiscent of pineapple and gooseberry. The fruits rich in vitamins are either eaten raw or used as a cake accompaniment, in desserts or jam making and are used to decorate cocktails and desserts.

Hand holds fruit

Inside the lampion-like shell are the delicious orange fruits


The berries of the variety 'Sch├Ânbrunner Gold' are large, dark yellow and taste very aromatic. The variety 'Little Lanterns' is suitable for a bucket planting. It provides a rich yield of small orange fruits. Cherry-sized fruits form the variety 'Peruvian Andes berry'. An early ripening variety, which is also suitable for the local climate, is 'Purple de Milpa'.

Physalis peruviana 'Little Lanterns'

Physalis peruviana 'Little Lanterns'


The Physalis can be relatively easily propagated through cuttings. Until the beginning of November, cut eight to ten centimeters of head cuttings with five to seven leaves. They rooted in earth pots at 18 at 20 degrees Celsius after three weeks. After they have rooted, they must be slightly cooler. From May, the young plants can then go outdoors.

Diseases and pests

Physalis are very resistant to diseases and pests. In the greenhouse the whitefly often appears. When the weather is too humid, very ripe fruits often burst and mold (gray mold). Preventively, you should not plant the plants too dense, quickly harvest ripe fruits and sometimes shorten the side shoots.

Video Board: Organic Incaberry Farm Ecuador.

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