Physalis longifolia (Long-leaf Ground Cherry)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun;|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||12 to 40 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Nodding stalked flowers arising singly from leaf axils along branching stems. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, bell-shaped with 5 shallow lobes, pale yellow with darker yellowish to greenish to purple-brown spots on the inside at the base of the throat, sparsely hairy on the outer surface. Inside are 5 stamens with creamy yellow or purplish tips (anthers).
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, medium to dark green, lance-elliptic, blunt at the tip, 1 to 5 inches long, up to 3 inches wide, toothless to irregularly toothed around the edges, on a stalk up to 1½ inches long. Surfaces are mostly hairless but may have scattered, minute, appressed hairs especially along major veins.
Long-leaf Ground Cherry is native to much of the US but is not recognized as native to Minnesota by the DNR. It's never been officially recorded here, but that does not mean it doesn't exist. Perhaps just overlooked. We encountered a small population just outside McKnight Prairie in Goodhue County in 2010 but it didn't register as a new (to us) species at the time. Looking back at old images from 2002, we discovered it was also somewhere in Winona County, probably just north of Winona. Then we were recently contacted about a population on private property in Hennepin County, which had been there for several years and starting to expand into a sizable colony. Is it actually native here? The national map indicates it may be but that is for others to decide. In all the above cases it was in disturbed soils—roadsides, old fields, and a restoration—and probably not planted or escaped from cultivation. Possibly transported by birds or vehicles from a native population.
The flowers are much the same as the other yellow-flowered Ground Cherries in Minnesota, but Long-leaf Ground Cherry is distinguished by its robust growth (to 3+ feet tall and colony-forming), essentially hairless leaves and stems, and the calyx with hairs mostly just along the veins. Both Clammy Ground Cherry (Physalis heterophylla) and Virginia Ground Cherry (P. virginiana) are smaller plants (often about 1 foot tall) and hairier all over, with more spreading hairs. There are 2 recognized varieties of P. longifolia, both of which may be in Minnesota. Documentation on the vars is poor, but best guess is: var. longifolia has a mostly western distribution, less toothly leaves and yellow anthers on flowers; var. subglabrata (a.k.a. P. subglabrata) has a mostly eastern distribution, more toothly leaves and purplish anthers. Minnesota is at the northern edge of where their ranges overlap.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Long-leaf Ground Cherry plant
- Long-leaf Ground Cherry plant
- a colony of Long-leaf Ground Cherry
- inside the flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Goodhue County and a private residence in Hennepin County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue and Winona counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?