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groundcherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry (U.S.), poha (Hawaii), jam fruit (India), physalis
German: Ananaskirsche, essbare Judaskirsche, Kap-Stachelbeere, peruanische Schlutte, judenkirche
French: coquerelle, coqueret, coqueret du Pérou, alkékénge du Pérou
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).