Physalis peruviana, known in English as golden berry (South Africa),
physalis, Inca berry, cape gooseberry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian
groundcherry, Peruvian cherry (U.S.), poha (Hawaii), ras bhari
(India), aguaymanto (Peru), uvilla (Ecuador), uchuva (Colombia) and
physalis. It is indigenous to South America but was cultivated in
South Africa in the region of the Cape of Good Hope during the 19th
century, imparting the common name, "cape gooseberry".
As a member of the plant family Solanaceae, it is related to a
large number of edible plants, including tomato, eggplant and
potato, and other members of the nightshades. It is closely related
to the tomatillo but not to the cherry, Ribes gooseberry, Indian
gooseberry or Chinese gooseberry, as its various names might
The fruit is a small round berry about the size of a marble with
numerous small yellow seeds. It is bright yellow and sweet when
ripe, making it ideal for snacks, pies or jams. It is popular in
fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado.
Its most notable feature is the single papery pod covering each
berry. Because of the fruit's decorative appearance, it is sometimes
used in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts. If the fruit
is left inside the husks, its shelf life at room temperature is over
Geographic and cultivation origins
Native to high altitude tropical Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and
Peru where the fruits grow wild, physalis are casually eaten and
occasionally sold in markets. Only recently has the plant become an
important crop; it has been widely introduced into cultivation in
other tropical, subtropical and even temperate areas.
The plant was grown by early settlers of the Cape of Good Hope
before 1807. In South Africa it is commercially cultivated; canned
fruits and jam are staple commodities, often exported. It is also
cultivated and naturalized on a small scale in Gabon and other parts
of Central Africa.
Soon after its adoption in the Cape of Good Hope (presumably the
origin of the name 'Cape gooseberry'), it was carried to Australia,
where it was one of the few fresh fruits of the early settlers in
New South Wales. It is also favored in New Zealand where it is said
that "the housewife is sometimes embarrassed by the quantity of
berries in the garden", and government agencies promote increased
culinary use. It is also grown in India, and is called Rasbhari
The Cape gooseberry is also grown in North Eastern China, namely
Heilongjiang province. A seasonal fruit harvested in late August
through September. In Chinese pinyin, the fruit is informally
referred to as "gu niao" ,Turkish name is altın šilek and the
scientific name is Physalis pubescens L or in Chinese pinyin "mao
suan jiang" .
It has been widely grown in Egypt for at least half a century and
is known locally as ""harankash"" حرنكش, a word of obscure origin,
or as is-sitt il-mistaHiya الست المستحية (the shy woman), a
reference to the papery sheath. It makes an excellent crumble,
substituting harankash for apples, for example.
 Medical research, folk medicine and potential health value
Scientific studies of the cape gooseberry show its constituents,
possibly polyphenols and/or carotenoids, demonstrate
anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The crude extract of the fruit bearing plant, has demonstrated
anti-hepatoma and anti-inflammatory activities.Antioxidant
antidiabetes and antihypertension in vitro?
In folk medicine, Physalis peruviana has been used as a medicinal
herb for cancer, leukemia, malaria, asthma, hepatitis, dermatitis
and rheumatism.None of these diseases, however, is yet confirmed in
human clinical in vivo studies as treatable by the cape gooseberry.
 Pests and diseases