Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wild Cherries

Clammy Ground Cherry (Physalis heterophylla)

It has become something of a personal tradition to look for the fruit of the Clammy Ground Cherry in the the first days of August, just after Lammas (Lugnasadh) has passed.

This wild native resident of the Lanark Highlands grows as far north as the uppermost reaches of the province of Quebec, and it is cousin to the bright orange and red Chinese Lanterns which we cultivate in our garden and use to make floral arrangements in the interval between Mabon and Samhain.

Like most members of the nightshade family, the Clammy Ground Cherry is poisonous, and all parts of the plant are toxic except for the berries enclosed in the dangling calyx lanterns - the berries closely resemble another member of the nightshade family, the tomatillo, and they are tasty. Bins of Clammy Ground Cherry berries will be showing up in local farmers' markets in the days and weeks ahead, and I have several recipes which use the berries.

Most of all, I love the tiny dangling green lanterns which turn creamy beige as they mature. They rustle like paper in one's hand, and the texture is wonderful.

6 comments:

Deirdre said...

I'm growing tomatillos in my garden this year and am fascinated by the lantern-like husks. I had no idea there were other similar plants. There's so much to learn about gardening....

Tabor said...

I would love to see a photo of the seeds in market if you get a chance.

hele said...

Amazing - we have them here as well but call them gooseberries.

tj said...

Beautiful flashback, I remember playing with the auburn lanterns as a child.

smith kaich jones said...

We have nothing like these here in Texas. Well, perhaps somewhere, but I've never seen them. They're gorgeous.

Cloudscome said...

I found one one these plants growing in the hedge of a school near home. I wondered if is was Chinese Lanterns but looked wilder. Thanks for the ID. I'll go back and look for the berries.