Virginia groundcherry

(Physalis virginiana var. virginiana)

Conservation Status
Virginia groundcherry
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Virginia groundcherry is a 12 to 24 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a deep, horizontal, tough rhizome. It often forms colonies.

The stems are forked with ascending branches. The upper part of the stems are covered with short, stiff hairs that are bent backward, and no glandular hairs.

The leaves are alternate, thick, soft to the touch, stalked, egg-shaped to narrowly lance-shaped, 1¼ to 3 long, and 1½ to 2½ wide. They are broad and rounded or heart-shaped at the base, and taper to a point at the tip with straight sides along the tip. The margins have a few irregular teeth. The upper and lower surfaces have silky, appressed hairs as well as glandular hairs.

The inflorescence is single flowers nodding at the end of to ¾ long, hairy stalks (pedicels) rising from the leaf axils.

The flowers are ½ to ¾ long and wide. There are 5 pale yellow petals with purple to brown splotches near the center. They are fused into a bell-shaped corolla with 5 shallow lobes.

The fruit is a ½ spherical, berry, green at first, turning orange at maturity. It is enclosed in an inflated, papery, heart-shaped, 5-angled, ¾ long husk. The tip of the husk is mostly closed, and the base is sunken. The husk hangs from a to ¾ long pedicel. The berries are poisonous when green, edible when ripe.




12 to 24


Flower Color


Pale yellow with purple to brown centers


Similar Species


Clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla) is a taller plant, up to 36 at maturity. The upper stems are covered with both long, soft, shaggy hairs and sticky, glandular hairs. The leaves are broad, rounded or heart-shaped at the base,and clammy to the touch. The fruit is an yellow berry. The base of the husk is indented (this may be difficult to distinguish from the sunken base of Virginia groundcherry).


Dry. Prairies, upland woods, fields.




July to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Solanales (nightshades, bindweeds, gooseweeds, and allies)  


Solanaceae (nightshade)  
  Subfamily Solanoideae (nightshades and allies)  
  Tribe Physaleae (groundcherries, lanterns, and allies)  
  Subtribe Physalinae  


Physalis (groundcherries)  
  Species Physalis virginiana (Virginia groundcherry)  

Subordinate Taxa






Physalis intermedia

Physalis lanceolata

Physalis monticola


Common Names


field groundcherry

lance-leaved ground-cherry

lanceleaf groundcherry

obedient plant

Virginia ground cherry

Virginia ground-cherry

Virginia groundcherry










A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.


Glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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    Virginia groundcherry   Virginia groundcherry  
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    Virginia groundcherry   Virginia groundcherry  
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    Virginia groundcherry      


    Virginia groundcherry      


    Virginia groundcherry   Virginia groundcherry  
    Virginia groundcherry   Virginia groundcherry  






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Other Videos
  Weed of the Week #841 - Virginia Groundcherry (Air Date 5/18/14)
AgPhD's channel

Published on May 21, 2014

It's our Weed of the Week, Virginia Groundcherry.




Created 10/17/2004

Last Updated:

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