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Page 241 Goldenberry (Cape Gooseberry) The goldenberry 1 (Physalis peruviana) has long been a minor fruit of the Andes and is found in markets from Venezuela to Chile. It has also been grown in Hawaii, California, South Africa, East Africa, India, New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain. So far, however, it has nowhere become a major crop. Nonetheless, this interesting and unusual botanical relative of potatoes and tomatoes has commercial promise for many regions. 2 Goldenberry fruits are succulent golden spheres the size of marbles with a pleasing taste. They are protected by papery husks resembling Chinese lanterns. The attractive and symmetrical husk with its edible yellow fruit inside gives it an eye-catching appearance and potential market appeal. In most places where they are grown, goldenberries are now considered fruits only for backyard gardens or for children to pluck and eat. Given research, however, they could become commercial fruits of particular interest to the world's up-scale restaurants and bakeries. This is the strategy that established markets for kiwifruit in the 1960s and led to a multimillion dollar annual crop. Goldenberries already carry prestige in some international markets. Europeans, for example, often pay premium prices to dip them in chocolate 3 or decorate cakes and tortes. In addition to having a future as fresh fruits, goldenberries make excellent jam; in fact, in India, they are known commonly as “jam fruit.” In the United States they are best known as preserves marketed under the Hawaiian name “poha.” 1 The plant is more commonly called “cape gooseberry.” It is, however, not a true gooseberry. The name was adopted by Australians, who received their first plants from the Cape of Good Hope. A less cumbersome and more mellifluous name could help change its consumer image (as did the change from “Chinese gooseberry” to “kiwifruit”). The panel suggests the descriptive name “goldenberry,” which is sometimes used in Great Britain and South Africa and has been recommended as the commercial name (see Legge, 1974). Moreover, the name “goldenberry” is reminiscent of other berry fruits, such as blackberry and blueberry. 2 We recommend this species to tomato breeders seeking a challenge. 3 The husks are peeled back and make an attractive, eye-catching—and tasty—dessert.
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Page 242 ~ enlarge ~ Although not yet well known internationally, the goldenberry is an established commercial crop in several places: India, South Africa, New Zealand, and Hawaii among them. The rather wild and weedy plant can be outstandingly productive. (D.W. Watt, courtesy Sunset magazine)
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Page 243 This plant has few severe horticultural problems. It tolerates poor soils and is forgiving of neglect. It is easy to grow from seeds or cuttings and matures quickly. Although harvesting the fruit is labor intensive, the yields are high. All these features would seem to make the goldenberry an ideal addition to horticulture. However, current types do not travel well, some have a slightly bitter taste that invokes either intense like or dislike, and they can be sticky and mottled in appearance. Currently, the crop is probably best suited for local use as a fresh fruit or for jams. Eventually, however, selections and techniques will be found that deliver top-quality fruits to market. Then, the goldenberry is likely to become a well-known international commodity. PROSPECTS The Andes. Many Andeans are familiar with the plant and its requirements. The germplasm to create a global crop is in their gardens. Other parts of the world use vast quantities of blueberries and blackberries in baked goods and cooking; Andean nations now have the opportunity to create an equal demand for goldenberries. Some countries—Colombia and Chile, for example—could add the goldenberry to their fresh-fruit exports. Other Developing Areas. The goldenberry seems destined to become a popular cash crop for smallholders far beyond its native lands. The plant seems to succeed wherever tomatoes are grown, and it is both cultivated and naturalized in Malaysia, China, India, southern and eastern Africa, and the Caribbean. It is likely that local and export potential for both fresh and processed fruits will develop. (This is already occurring in Kenya. See sidebar.) The goldenberry plant is one of the first to pioneer newly created waste areas. Its robustness and adaptability could lead to cultivation in many now-unused marginal areas. Industrialized Regions. With rising consumer awareness and demand, goldenberries will become more common in farmers' markets and urban groceries in North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas. They could become standard produce items, meriting intensive, mechanized agriculture with advanced cultivars. In addition, golden-berry jams and baked goods will become better known.
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Page 244 USES Generally, goldenberry fruits are eaten fresh—many of them picked casually off the weedlike plants. Chilled, the fruits provide a crisp, tartly sweet addition to both vegetable and fruit salads. Sometimes they are sweetened by pricking the skin and rolling them in sugar, which they absorb. Goldenberries are also used in sauces and glazes for meats and seafood, and they add an intriguing flavor to desserts. Their tangy taste combines well with meats, vegetables, and other fruits. The processed fruits are commonly used in sauces and preserves such as jams and jellies. 4 They are also canned whole in syrup and exported from South Africa. Sun dried, they form what has been called “a very agreeable raisin.” Goldenberry ice cream, although now unknown, seems a promising vehicle for introducing the fruit. The goldenberry plant is a good ground cover for protecting land from erosion. Its spreading robust growth rapidly covers erosion-prone sites. NUTRITION The goldenberry is an excellent source of provitamin A (3,000 I.U. of carotene per 100 g) and vitamin C, as well as some of the vitamin B-complex (thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B12). The protein and phosphorus contents are exceptionally high for a fruit, but calcium levels are low. 5 AGRONOMY This crop is easy to plant and maintain. Propagation is generally by seed. However, rooted cuttings flower earlier, yield more, and grow true to type. The crop is normally treated as an annual, even in the tropics. The plant forms huge, straggly bushes. In New Zealand, at least, it is grown on poor, droughty soil just to limit the size of the bush. High soil fertility fosters useless vegetative growth, while low fertility induces 4 The juice of the ripe berry contains so much pectin and pectinase that jams and preserves are self-jelling and require no additional pectin. 5 One sample of the fruit contained 78.9 percent water, 0.3 percent protein, 0.2 percent fat, 19.6 percent total carbohydrate, 4.9 percent fiber, 1.0 percent ash. Per 100 g, there were 73 calories, 8 mg calcium, 55 mg phosphorus, 1.2 mg iron, about 1 mg sodium, 320 mg potassium, 1,460 mg B-carotene equivalent, 0.10 mg thiamine, 0.03 mg riboflavin, 1.70 mg niacin, and 43 mg ascorbic acid. Information from J. Duke.
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Page 245 ~ enlarge ~ Inside its Chinese-lantern-like husks, the goldenberry has bright yellow succulent fruits the size of marbles. (N. Vietmeyer) fruit production. 6 Goldenberry can be grown along the margins of fields, ditches, and roadways, or interplanted with other crops. 7 Although it thrives in full sun, some shelter from strong wind is desirable. Most growers prune plantings back sharply after the first harvest to reduce pest infestations and to allow fruit to form on new growth. Flowering occurs 65–75 days after planting, 8 and harvest may commence 85–100 days after that. 9 Ripening occurs over a period of several months and the plants normally require more than one harvest. The papery husk helps protect the berries from some birds, insects, and disease organisms. 6 “If you're nice to it, you get a jungle,” notes David Klinac, a horticultural researcher who has worked with the crop. “You get vast numbers of fruit per bush, but the effort of cutting your way in is enormous. It's best to be as hard on the plants as possible.” 7 In the Andes, it is often grown among root crops, beans, or corn. Plants growing in waste places yield a favorite wayside treat for children and hikers, and it is commonly an encouraged weed as well as a tended crop. 8 Goldenberry has a long flowering period. The first fruits to form are often sacrificed to ensure the establishment of strong, healthy plants. They flower year-round in frost-free areas. 9 In colder regions, seedlings can be started under glass.
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Page 246 HARVESTING AND HANDLING Mature fruit will drop and can lie on dry ground for several days without ill effect, other than possible soiling of the husk. Shaking the plants and gathering the fallen fruit helps yield more uniformly mature berries. 10 Harvesting is currently not mechanized because the dried husks (which should be intact for commercial fresh-fruit markets) shatter easily. Fruits (including husk and stem) are easily removed from the plant with a simple twist. For processed products, machinery has been developed to husk the fruit. 11 Plants give their maximum yield the first season. They will produce for 2 or 3 years but the fruits get smaller after the first. 12 Yield is highly variable, depending on environment and intensity of cultivation. Untended plants may yield as little as 3 tons per hectare; carefully tended plants can provide 20 tons per hectare; yields of more than 33 tons per hectare have been reported. 13 The berries continue to ripen after picking. Over a period of 2–3 weeks most achieve a uniform, bright golden yellow. Soluble solids increase from 11 percent to as much as 16 percent. If carefully harvested when nearly mature and kept inside the husk, fruits may keep for several months in a dry container. Storage life is influenced by handling, wetness of husk at harvest, and fruit size. (Big fruits tend to split.) Removing the husk causes the fruits to deteriorate, irrespective of storage conditions. (Even after cold storage, fungal infection [Penicillium and Botrytis] is generally evident.) Keeping the husks intact minimizes handling damage and contains most infections. Fruits in the husk have been stored (below 2°C) for 4–5 months before marked shrinkage and collapse occur. Especially good results have been achieved by drying the fruits in the sun or in warm air (30°C) until husks are crisp to the touch. The fruit also freezes well. LIMITATIONS In this half-wild plant there is much variation in size, shape, and flavor of the fruits, time of maturity, and plant form. It has been so 10 Sheets of polyethylene or other material can be spread on the ground. Shaking the plants then drops the fruit on the sheet, which can be pulled out and the fruit dumped into containers. 11 A mechanical husker has been developed at the University of Hawaii. (Jaw-Kai Wang, 1966.) 12 Information from H.Y. Nakasone. 13 Information via J. Duke.
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Page 247 neglected that uniform horticultural varieties and superior cultivars remain to be identified. Currently, it is difficult to get lines that perform consistently. Growers in New Zealand, at least, select their own favorite plants from their own fields and replicate them by planting cuttings. The plant's susceptibility to pests and diseases is not well understood, but when plantings are small and separated, pests and diseases are seldom major problems. In fact, once established, the crop rèquires little attention. However, potential threats (especially in large plantings) include birds, which prey upon the fruits; tobacco mosaic virus and bacterial leaf-spot, which infect the plants; and a number of insects that attack the foliage. Palates accustomed to sweet fruits may find the slightly bitter aftertaste of some goldenberries unappealing. Even so, the uniquely fruity flavor is almost universally enjoyed. Despite the ease of production, this may be an expensive crop to produce on a large scale. The plant probably needs staking for ease of handling in commercial production. Moreover, harvesting and manually husking each fruit is labor-intensive and is time-consuming. (This should not be more of a concern than with other berry crops, however.) The husk is an asset, but can also be a liability. It conceals the fact that the fruit inside may have split or otherwise been damaged. (The experience of finding a split and rotten berry inside can be irritating.) This robust plant could become a weed when introduced to new locations. And it may be a threat to foraging animals. Its leaves and stems are suspected of having caused the erosion of intestinal membranes (diptheresis) in cattle. 14 The berry is sometimes covered with a sticky coating. If the weather is damp, a black mold often develops on this coating, although no harm seems to come to the fruit and the discoloration is easily washed off. The consumer, however, is likely to reject the whole batch after finding a few sooty berries. Of course, this is hidden by the papery shell and comes as a surprise to the unwary shopper. Only ripe fruits should be eaten. Although unreported, there may be toxic glucosides in the unripe fruit. RESEARCH NEEDS The following are among this crop's general research needs. Genetic Selection Since the 1940s and 1950s, goldenberry has been 14 Information from J. Duke.
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Page 248 given almost no serious horticultural attention. Researchers should now scour the Andes as well as New Zealand, South Africa, Hawaii, and other likely places for the sweetest and most pleasant types. Superior strains should be documented. The greatest variation is likely to be found along the Andean cordillera. Selection for growth habit, stable characteristics, and superior fruit types can probably best be accomplished in this region. In particular, a determinate cultivar, whose fruit mature all at once, would be valuable for intensive agriculture. Selecting plants whose shapes are amenable to mechanical harvesting would als be a major advance. Fruit Quality Much could be done with producing color variations. Fruits that are striped, variegated, and oddly shaped have often been observed, but so far have not been developed. It is easy to select for larger berries, but these tend to split during transport. Overcoming splitting would be an important factor in advancing the crop. The causes of splitting should be investigated. Postharvest handling and improved methods of shipping, harvesting, and storing goldenberries would allow a greater return to the grower and a more satisfied consumer. (The techniques used for handling tomatoes might apply here. For example, the use of ethylene might be employed to force uniform ripening.) Agronomic Research Techniques of pruning that adapt the plants to mechanical harvesting could increase yields while lowering the costs of production in countries where labor costs are high. Also, modern trellising methods (as used with pepino, for example) should be tested. There is little practical understanding of pests and diseases. Baseline studies are needed. Applying to the goldenberry the tissue-culture techniques developed for tomatoes and potatoes may open up avenues for the rapid propagation of desirable cultivars with predictable performance. The use of hormones to induce fruit set and increase fruit size should be explored. End-Use Research Additional research is needed on the vitamin and mineral content as compared with other berry fruit. It seems likely that nutritional quality could become a valuable tool in promoting the goldenberry. Research is also needed on new uses for the processed fruits, especially in products that ship and store well—for example, marmalades, preserves, and jams—but also in wine, ice cream, milk shakes, yogurt, and toppings for desserts and cakes.
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Page 249 GOLDENBERRY IN KENYA In the highland areas of East Africa, the goldenberry (locally called “cape gooseberry”) is popular, especially among the urban population. The fruit is a common item in greengrocers' shops. It is also widely available packed in cans or as jam or preserves. In the early 1980s, Kenya Orchards Limited (Mua Hills, Machako District) was canning 10–15,000 kg per year. Fruit was purchased from small producers in the immediate area. More fruit would have been processed had it been available. The cannery considered exporting but could not meet the local demand, which at that time was steadily increasing. In addition to pure preserves, the cannery produced tasty mixtures of goldenberry with mulberries, guavas, and peaches. The cannery was experimenting with canning goldenberry juice, but problems were encountered with brewing, precipitins, and separation after heating in the sterilization process. Fruit could be held, if necessary, at ambient temperatures (in the 20°C range) for 3–7 days, if not too ripe. The cannery was realizing a large profit—that is, the finished products were selling at 12 times the purchase price of the fruit. Farmers in the area were giving little or no attention to the young plants once their seedlings or cuttings were established. However, in the higher, cooler areas near Nairobi, at least one large vegetable producer was growing a selection from South Africa under improved agronomic conditions. All fruit was sold at premium prices in the better greengrocers' shops. It was especially popular among the local Europeans and the large expatriate population, who consumed it both raw and stewed. B. H. Waite SPECIES INFORMATION Botanical Name Physalis peruviana Linnaeus Family Solanaceae (nightshade family) Synonym Physalis edulis Sims Common Names Quechua: topotopo Aymara: uchuba, cuchuva Spanish: uvilla, capulí, uchuva (Colombia), aguaymanto, amor en bolsa, cereza del Perú, cuchuva, lengua de vaca, motojobobo embolsado, sacabuche, tomate silvestre, topotopo, yuyo de ojas English: golden berry (South Africa, U.K.), cape gooseberry, giant
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Page 250 groundcherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry (U.S.), poha (Hawaii), jam fruit (India), physalis German: Ananaskirsche, essbare Judaskirsche, Kap-Stachelbeere, peruanische Schlutte, judenkirche Dutch: lampion French: coquerelle, coqueret, coqueret du Pérou, alkékénge du Pérou Italian: fisalis Portuguese: batetesta, camapú, camapum, groselha do Perú, herva noiva do Perú, tomate inglês, tomateiro inglês Hindi: teparee, makowi Sinhalese: thol thakkali Malawi: jamu, Peruvian cherry Arabic: habwa (Sudan) Origin. The goldenberry was known to the Incas, but its origin is obscure. It grows wild in many parts of the Andes (for instance, in Colombian forests above 2,200 m elevation), but whether these are wild ancestral plants or just cultivated plants run wild is not clear. Description. The goldenberry is a branched, shrubby herb normally growing to about 1 m, with velvety, heart-shaped leaves. Before reaching full height, side branches develop and soon grow larger than the main stem, causing the plant to straggle sideways. If staked, pruned, and given good care, height may reach 2 m. The yellow, bell-shaped flowers are easily pollinated by insects and wind. (Insect pollinators, such as bees, generally appear to help fruit set.) The calyx at the base of the flower forms a “bladder” around the fruit as it begins to form, eventually enclosing it fully. This husk becomes straw-colored and parchmentlike on maturity. In warmer climates, the plant can flower and fruit year-round. The fruit measures 1.25–2 cm in diameter and contains many flat seeds—it is somewhat like a miniature tomato in internal structure. When fully mature, the husk and fruit drop to the ground together. Horticultural Varieties. Although goldenberry has been commercially cultivated in some areas for more than 200 years and local genotypes are common, selected strains for commercial use are not widely available. A vigorous, large-fruited type (more than 2 cm in diameter) has recently been developed in Oregon (United States). 15 15 Information from Peace Seeds.
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Page 251 Also, several plant nurseries in the United States and United Kingdom sell named types aimed primarily at home gardeners. Environmental Requirements Daylength. The plant is apparently not greatly restricted by daylength because it yields fruit well both near the equator and at high latitudes (in New Zealand, for example). Rainfall. At least 800 mm of moisture is necessary during the growing season. Greater amounts (up to 4,300 mm have been reported if soil drainage is good) increase yield, although excessive moisture can promote diseases as well as hamper fruit set (probably because it decreases pollination). Altitude. Apparently unimportant. The fruit is grown from sea level in New Zealand, for instance, to 2,600 m near the equator in the Andes. Low Temperature. Some tolerance to light frost has been noted, but plantings will not prosper when night temperatures are consistently lower than about 10°C. High Temperature. Heat apparently does not inhibit fruit setting. In Hawaii, the plant produces fruit where day temperatures are in the range of 27–30°C. Soil Type. The plant is fairly adaptable to a wide variety of soils (pH 4.5–8.2), most notably highly weathered tropical latosols. 16 Fertile, well-drained, sandy soil is preferred, although vegetative growth can overwhelm fruit production if soils are too rich. 16 Information from J. Duke.
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