Weeding can be a thankless task. No sooner have we removed the offending plants than they appear again meaning that weeding becomes a constant chore. So anything that can make this task less of a drudge must be a plus and a weed that contains cherries you can eat should certainly lighten the mood. These cherries are said to have a taste that hints of strawberry or pineapple as Melody Rose explains in her article which I found on Dave’s Garden website.

Sometimes what are considered weeds is just a matter of perspective. Ground cherries certainly fall into this category.
Somewhere along the line, wires were crossed and a once well-known fruit fell into obscurity. These little late autumn, golden gems have been relegated to weed status in many parts of the world. The genus Physalis consists of about 100 species with similar characteristics. The fruits grow encased in a papery husk. The familiar tomatillo and ornamental Chinese lantern are members of this tribe, belonging to the Solanaceae family. Yes, that’s right, ground cherries are cousins of the tomato, pepper, eggplant and petunia, just to name a few. They have a number of common names, ground cherries, husk cherries, winter strawberries and cape gooseberries. In reality, the cape gooseberry is a different plant, but the name seems to be used interchangeably for some reason. Why ‘ground’ cherry? Well, that name describes a unique characteristic. When the fruits are ripe, they drop to the ground and to harvest, just pick them up each day.

ground cherry

This weedy plant produces hundreds of small golden berries that have a mild, sweet flavor that some compare to a strawberry or pineapple. I’ve tasted them, and the ones in my area have a slightly sweet, citrusy flavor, but definitely need some assistance before they could be termed tasty. Ground cherries were popular among native peoples and early settlers. They provide Vitamin A and C, a low glycemic index, along with significant amounts of beta carotene, calcium, iron and fiber. It took several years before an orchard was mature enough to produce, however, this little plant could complete the cycle in just one year. It can go from seed to fruit in one growing season. A very helpful feature for subsistence farmers and hunter/gatherers.

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