Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana)
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Physalis peruviana (commonly known as physalis, Cape gooseberry, ground-cherry, golden berry, uchuva, Inca berry, or uvilla–which also can refer to the Amazon Grape) is a species of Physalis indigenous to South America, but grows well in Africa. It is related to the tomato, potato, and other members of the nightshade family and closely related to the tomatillo (but not to the cherry, gooseberry or Chinese gooseberry, as its various names might suggest). The fruit is a small round berry, about the size of a marble, full of small seeds. It is bright yellow when ripe, and very sweet, making it ideal for baking into pies and making jam.
Its most notable feature is the single papery pod that covers each berry. Because of the fruit’s decorative appearance, it is sometimes used in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts.
Native to Colombia, Chile and Peru where the fruits are casually eaten and occasionally sold in markets but the plant is still not an important crop, it has been widely introduced into cultivation in other tropical, subtropical and even temperate areas. The plant was grown by early settlers of the Cape of Good Hope before 1807. In South Africa it is commercially cultivated; canned fruits and jam are staple commodities, often exported. It is also cultivated and naturalized on a small scale in Gabon and other parts of Central Africa.
Soon after its adoption in the Cape of Good Hope (presumably the origin of the name ‘Cape gooseberry’) it was carried to Australia, where it was one of the few fresh fruits of the early settlers in New South Wales. There it has long been grown on a large scale and is abundantly naturalized, as it is also in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and northern Tasmania. It is also grown in New Zealand where it is said that “the housewife is sometimes embarrassed by the quantity of berries in the garden”, and government agencies promote increased culinary use.
Categories: Solanaceae | Solanales stubs | Fruit stubs | Colombia stubs