Ground Cherry   

 

Ground Cherry is the common name given to a variety of different species of plants in the Physalis genus.  They are related to tomatoes and therefore have several visible similarities that make them easy to spot, though specifics will differ from species to species.  Ground cherries grow wild all over the world, though usually associated with warmer areas they can be found in high latitudes and colder areas as well.  There widespread availability and their tendency to grow in large groups makes them a great resource for wilderness survival.

 

  • They can be found growing on the edges of wooded areas more than fully open fields.
  • They range greatly in size, growing anywhere from 1 foot to 9 feet tall.
  • One of the most distinctive features is the papery husk that grows around the edible fruit. For those that garden, it is similar, though loser than the husk of a tomatillo, another relative of the tomato.
  • The fruit can vary widely in taste, but hopefully you come across some of the sweeter varieties which can be so sweet they have been compared to pineapples.
  • The fruit is highly nutritious. Containing niacin, vitamin B, and cryptoxanthin which the body turns into vitamin A.
  • The fruit will mature in summer in warmer climates.
  • One of the greatest things about this plant for survival is that the husk protects it from pests, and in colder areas it can last, on the plant, well into the winter and can be a great source of vital nutrients that would otherwise not be easily obtainable during the cold months.
  • When picking them, leave the husks on until you eat them for better protection.

If you are only aware of and familiar with wild edibles in your area that are available in the growing season, then your survivability for half of the year is greatly diminished.  It is important to familiarize yourself with the wild edibles in your area during all seasons.   For many ground cherries will offer a near year-round source of nutrient rich food.

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