What Will Grow
A low bushy plant that branches close to the ground. Flowers are yellow with a dark central burst. The fruit is appears similar to a yellow cherry tomato, but grows within a papery husk like a tomatillo. The husk turns brown when the fruit is ripe, and separates easily from the stem. The easiest way to harvest is simply to carefully lift a branch, shake it gently, and collect the fruit from the ground beneath. The ripe fruits last well to 4 weeks in the husk, and when removed from the husk can be eaten fresh, or frozen or dried. The taste is mild and sweet.
Seeds grown out and donated by Dark Earth Farm. Dark Earth originally obtained seeds from ground cherries purchased at the Granville Farmer's Market in 2019. Photograph was taken on Dark Earth Farm in the summer of 2021.
There are a number of closely related species of ground cherries, and they have a broad history of use in native cuisine. Some of the following uses may refer to a species other than pruinosa. The Cherokee, Hualapai, Iroquois, and Isleta ate them fresh. The Cherokee, Iroquois, and Hualapai also make them into preserves, and used them in relishes. The Iroquois mashed the fruit into small cakes, and dried them for future use; the dried fruit was used as a hunting food, and the dried cakes were soaked in warm water and cooked as a sauce, or mixed with cornbread.
Moerman, Daniel E. 1998. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press. 395-396.
“Native American Ethnobotany Database”. http://naeb.brit.org/uses/species/2919/. Accessed 1/10/2022.
Waugh, F.W. 1916. “Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation”. Anthropological Series, Memoir 86, No. 12. 125-129. Canada Department of Mines, Geological Survey. https://archive.org/details/cu31924101546921/. Accessed 1/10/2022.
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McCullough, Ethan and Nolt, Jenna, "Ground Cherries" (2022). Seed Library. 1.