Leucophysalis grandiflora (Large False Ground Cherry)

Plant Info
Also known as: White-flowered Ground-cherry, Large-flowered Ground-cherry
Family:Solanaceae (Potato)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed sandy or gravelly soil; gravel pits, floodplains, trail edges, roadsides, clearcuts
Bloom season:July
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] Clusters of 2 to 4 stalked flowers arising from the upper leaf axils, the flowers rotated, facing out or nodding. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches across, saucer-shaped with 5 fused petals, white to creamy colored with pale yellow to brownish yellow spots on the inside at the base of the throat, and short-hairy on the outer surface. In the center are 5 short stamens and a single style.

[photo of calyx] The calyx cupping the flower is bowl-shaped with 5 narrowly triangular lobes about as long as the calyx tube. Flower stalks are about ½ inch long. The calyx and stalks are densely covered in short, sticky glandular hairs mixed with long non-glandular hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long, lance to egg-shaped with a pointed tip, toothless, slightly wavy around the edges, and stalked. Stems are ridged, more or less erect, and branched. Leaves, stalks and stems are all densely covered in a mix of short glandular and long non-glandular hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of developing fruit] The calyx persists and enlarges as fruit develops, remaining open at the tip with the fruit nearly filling the expanded calyx tube. Fruit is a round to oval berry about ½ inch in diameter.


Large False Ground Cherry is an uncommon species, rare in much of its range which spans from Québec to Alberta in Canada and into Great Lakes states in the US. It has a preference for disturbed sandy or gravelly soils such as those found along roadsides, gravel pits, and clear-cut areas. It's only been recorded about 8 times in Minnesota during the past 50 years, mostly in areas recently clear-cut or burned but, according to Michigan Flora, won't persist more than a few years unless the disturbance is maintained. It is currently not considered rare in Minnesota but is tracked by the DNR; it is listed as a Special Concern species in Wisconsin. It somewhat resembles true Ground Cherry (Physalis) species, which have pale yellow, bell-shaped flowers and an inflated, papery wrapping on their fruit.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Otto Gockman taken in Wadena County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jeffrey - Duluth
on: 2017-07-18 22:29:29

I found and took pictures of Leucophysalis grandiflora in 2015 north of Duluth. This whole gravel parking lot was redone and had created a lot of disturbance. I can send you pictures if you would like. I have not seen it last year nor this year.

Posted by: Marilyn Lee - Koochiching county...Big falls area
on: 2018-06-17 22:53:58

Found these plants growing in Koochiching County up in the Pine Island bog area on June 17-2018

Posted by: Harvey Tjader - Cloquet Forestry Center
on: 2019-03-17 12:01:40

West of the guest faculty cabin

Posted by: Cindy Kehus - Beaver Bay Township
on: 2022-07-05 15:51:48

Found along a fairly new (recently disturbed) trail in the woods about a mile inland from Lake Superior in Beaver Bay Township, Lake County. Plant feels very sticky. Fruit is not ripe but I tasted (and then spit out) and it was quite sweet.

Posted by: John - Houston County
on: 2023-11-12 18:45:28

I'm dying to know if it's edible, how it Taste when Fully Ripe, what Ripe Fruit even looks like and if it taste better than Physalis fruits. (I'm surprised Cindy found it sweet even when unripe, but more details please) I'm curious to know, What are the Key ID Features of each physalis type/Tribe genus? Physalis, Leucophysalis, Alkekengi, etc. How do I Truly ID each Genera since they all look like Physalis. Is Leucophysalis paper wrapping not papery or just doesn't fully enclose the fruit? Is that the what separates the two genera?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-11-12 21:26:51

John, Michigan Flora has a key to the Solanaceae family that should answer some of your questions.

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