Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Physalis peruviana
(Cape gooseberry)



Physalis peruviana (Cape gooseberry)


  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Physalis peruviana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Cape gooseberry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P. peruviana is a herbaceous perennial which has been very widely introduced across the world from South America as a cultivated plant, grown for its fruit, as a medicinal plant and as an ornamental. It has all...

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Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry). Habit at Olinda, Maui.  December 25, 2006
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry). Habit at Olinda, Maui. December 25, 2006
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry). Habit at Olinda, Maui.  December 25, 2006
HabitPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry). Habit at Olinda, Maui. December 25, 2006©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); habit at Pohakuokala Gulch, Maui.  August 15, 2005
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); habit at Pohakuokala Gulch, Maui. August 15, 2005
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); habit at Pohakuokala Gulch, Maui.  August 15, 2005
HabitPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); habit at Pohakuokala Gulch, Maui. August 15, 2005©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); Leaves and fruit at Olinda, Maui.  December 25, 2006
TitleLeaves and fruit capsules
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); Leaves and fruit at Olinda, Maui. December 25, 2006
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); Leaves and fruit at Olinda, Maui.  December 25, 2006
Leaves and fruit capsulesPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); Leaves and fruit at Olinda, Maui. December 25, 2006©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); flower at Auwahi, Maui.  January 31, 2004
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); flower at Auwahi, Maui. January 31, 2004
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); flower at Auwahi, Maui.  January 31, 2004
FlowerPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); flower at Auwahi, Maui. January 31, 2004©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit at Bubble Cave Haleakala National Park, Maui. July 12, 2011.
TitleFruits, with calyx
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit at Bubble Cave Haleakala National Park, Maui. July 12, 2011.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit at Bubble Cave Haleakala National Park, Maui. July 12, 2011.
Fruits, with calyxPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit at Bubble Cave Haleakala National Park, Maui. July 12, 2011.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit on display at Maui County Fair Kahului, Maui. September 30, 2012
TitleFruits, with calyx removed
CaptionPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit on display at Maui County Fair Kahului, Maui. September 30, 2012
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Physalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit on display at Maui County Fair Kahului, Maui. September 30, 2012
Fruits, with calyx removedPhysalis peruviana (poha, Cape gooseberry); fruit on display at Maui County Fair Kahului, Maui. September 30, 2012©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Physalis peruviana L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Cape gooseberry

Other Scientific Names

  • Alkekengi pubescens Moench. (1794)
  • Boberella peruvina (L) E.H.L. Krause (1903)
  • Boberella pubescens (L) E.H.L. Krause in Sturm (1903)
  • Physalis chenopodifolia Lam. (1794)
  • Physalis edulis Sims
  • Physalis esculenta Salisb. (1796)
  • Physalis latifolia Lam. (1794)
  • Physalis puberula Fernald
  • Physalis pubescens L. (1793)
  • Physalis tomentosa Medik (1780)

International Common Names

  • English: bladderberry; common Capegooseberry; goldenberry; gooseberry tomato; obra cabbage; Peruvian cherry; Peruvian groundcherry
  • Spanish: alquequenje; Capuli
  • French: alkekenge jaune; coqueret du Perou

Local Common Names

  • China: deng long guo
  • Cook Islands: tupera; tupere
  • Fiji: botebote yadre; kospeli; maulanggua; mbotembote yandra; tukiyandra
  • France: capuli; coqueret comestible; coqueret du Peru; du Pérou; groseiller canaque; grosellier du cap
  • French Polynesia: maru; tupere
  • Gabon: alkegenji
  • Germany: Andenbeere; Kapstachelbeere; Peruanische Blasenkirsche
  • India: mako; makowi; rasbhari; teparee; tiparee
  • India/Tamil Nadu: perungunni; pottipallam
  • Italy: alchechengio giallo
  • Kiribati: te baraki
  • Nauru: oatamo; watamo
  • Niue: manini; manini fua lalahi
  • Philippines: lobolobohan
  • South Africa: apellifie; pompelmoes
  • Spain: aguaymanto; amor en bolsa; cereza del Peru; chuchuva; guchavo; motojobobo embolsado; tomate sylvestre; topotopo; uchuba; uvilla; vegigon
  • Tonga: ku'usi
  • USA/Hawaii: pa'ina; poha

EPPO code

  • PHYPE (Physalis peruviana)

Summary of Invasiveness

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P. peruviana is a herbaceous perennial which has been very widely introduced across the world from South America as a cultivated plant, grown for its fruit, as a medicinal plant and as an ornamental. It has all too often become naturalized to the point of invasiveness in crops and in natural habitats, forming thickets, crowding out other vegetation and threatening endangered species. This has occurred particularly in Hawaii and on other Pacific Islands. It is classed as invasive by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG, 2012) and included by Weber (2003) in his guide to environmental weeds. It may also, when introduced, harbour noxious pest and disease agents of importance on solanaceous crops.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Solanaceae
  •                             Genus: Physalis
  •                                 Species: Physalis peruviana

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Physalis peruviana L., the Cape gooseberry or goldenberry has been known by many synonyms, but none are in current use. One of the more commonly quoted was P. edulis. It should be noted that P. peruviana Mill. (not L.) is also a synonym for the very different Nicandra physaloides.

A range of cultivated varieties are recognised, especially in Colombia, and studies confirm there is considerable genetic variation within the species representing potential for further selection.

Other common English names include golden husk, ground cherry, Peruvian cherry, Peruvian ground cherry, strawberry tomato and winter cherry. In Hawaii it is named poha. It has numerous names across Latin America: in Peru it is capuli, aguaymanto, tomate silvestre, tomatito de perro or uchuba; in Boliva capulí or motojobobo embolsado; in Ecuador uvilla; in Colombia uvilla, uchuva, vejigón or guchavo; in Venezuela topotopo or chuchuva; in Chile capuli, amor en bolsa, or bolsa de amor; and in Mexico, cereza del Peru (Morton, 1987). In South Africa, it is known as pompelmoes, apelliefie or alkekengi; in Gabon coqueret; in the Philippines lobolobohan; and in India teparee, tiparee, or makowi (Duarte and Paull, 2015).


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General description

P. peruviana is an annual in temperate situations but perennial in the tropics (Morton, 1987). As a perennial, it has a sympodial growth habit and develops into a diffusely branched herbaceous or somewhat woody shrub that reaches 1.0-1.6 m, occasionally 1.8-2.0 m if pruned and guided. The spreading branches are ribbed, often tinged purple or mauve and densely, softly hairy (Flora Zambesiaca, 2012). Most of the fibrous root system is found between 10 and 15 cm depth while some main roots can go down to 50-80 cm.


Stems bear nearly opposite, velvety, heart-shaped leaves, randomly toothed, up to 15 cm long by 10 cm wide on petioles 2-3 cm long. After fruit ripening, leaves turn yellow and fall.


The hermaphrodite flowers of P. peruviana are formed singly in the axils of the leaves on pedicels 1-2 cm long and are bell-shaped and nodding, 15-20 mm across, shallowly 10-lobed, yellow with five dark purple-brown spots in the throat, and are densely pubescent especially near the base. The cupped calyx is formed of 5 lobes, connate at the base with triangular tips about 1cm long, purplish-green, hairy and conspicuously veined. After the flower falls, the calyx expands, ultimately forming a straw-coloured husk much larger than the fruit it encloses (Morton, 1987).


The fruit is a round berry 1.25-2 cm wide, with smooth, glossy, orange-yellow skin and juicy pulp containing 100-300 very small yellowish seeds, discoid up to 2 mm long, and minutely reticulate. When fully ripe, the fruit is sweet but with a pleasing grape-like tang. The husk is bitter and inedible (Duarte and Paull, 2015).

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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P. peruviana is native to South America, ranging from Chile to Colombia and Venezuela. It is often said to have originated from Brazil but records from there are not abundant. From South America it has been extremely widely distributed across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and to a lesser extent to Europe, as a fruit and ornamental crop. It is not certain that it has naturalized in all the countries for which it is recorded (see distribution table), but has commonly done so in most countries where it has been recorded for any length of time. Considering the popularity of this species as a crop it is likely that its distribution, as indicated by the tables, is somewhat under-estimated, especially in the Caribbean.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ArmeniaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
BhutanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
ChinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
IndiaWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012Grown throughout India
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
-Nusa TenggaraPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
IsraelPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Bonin IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
LebanonPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987
NepalUSDA-ARS, 2012
PakistanPresentIntroducedeflorasorg, 2012
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012
VietnamGBIF, 2012


AlgeriaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedGBIF, 2012
AngolaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
BotswanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
BurundiPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
CameroonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
ChadPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
EgyptPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
EritreaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
GabonPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987
GhanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
KenyaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
LesothoPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
MadagascarPresentIntroducedPhillipson, 2012
MalawiPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
MauritiusPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
MoroccoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
MozambiquePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
NamibiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
NigeriaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
RéunionPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
RwandaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
SeychellesPresentIntroducedRobertson, 1989
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
SomaliaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
South AfricaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
SwazilandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
UgandaPresentIntroducedEl-Sheikha and Montet, 2011
ZambiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
MexicoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Liquido et al., 1994; USDA-ARS, 2012
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987
MartiniquePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012

South America

ArgentinaPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeCerri, 2006
BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
-ParanaPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
-Sao PauloPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
ChilePresent Invasive PIER, 2012Introduced and invasive in Juan Fernandez Islands
ColombiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
EcuadorPresentNative Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
VenezuelaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012


AustriaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
BelgiumPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
BulgariaPresentIntroducedPopova et al., 2010
FinlandPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
FranceLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2012
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedJeanmonod and Schlüssel, 2010First record
GermanyPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
HungaryPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPaksi et al., 2007
IrelandLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2012
ItalyPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedGBIF, 2012
LithuaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedRockenbach et al., 2008
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
NorwayPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
RomaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedStoian et al., 2008
Russian FederationPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedAnon, 1998
SloveniaLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2012
SpainLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2012
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedFraga et al., 2007First record for Minorca
SwedenLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2012
UKLocalisedIntroduced Not invasive Stace, 1991


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Lord Howe Is.PresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedSouth Australia, 2012
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
KiribatiPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
NauruPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012
-Kermadec IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012Saipan Island
PalauPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
TuvaluPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012

History of Introduction and Spread

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P. peruviana was first reported in England in 1774 (Morton, 1987). A number of sources indicate that P. peruviana was introduced to South Africa ‘before 1807’ and it is from there that it was spread further, such as to India and Australia (Morton, 1987; South Australia, 2012). There are few, if any, firm dates for first introductions but there is specific mention of its introduction to New South Wales, Australia ‘at the end of the 18th century’ and first records from Sydney in 1802 (South Australia, 2012). It was taken to Hawaii before 1825, was known in Jamaica before 1913 and was first planted in Israel in 1933 (Morton, 1987).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia South Africa Late 1700's Horticulture (pathway cause)South Australia (2012) Introduced to N.S.W. from the Cape of Good Hope
Hawaii Before 1825 Horticulture (pathway cause)Morton (1987)
Israel 1933 Horticulture (pathway cause)Morton (1987) First planted
Jamaica Before 1913 Morton (1987)
South Africa Before 1807 Horticulture (pathway cause)Morton (1987)
UK 1774 Morton (1987)

Risk of Introduction

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There can be few countries left where P. peruviana has not already been introduced, but the risks of further introductions clearly remain very high, given the popularity of the plant for a variety of uses and the lack of any wide-ranging prohibitions in its movement.


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Weber (2003) indicates the habitat of P. peruviana to be forests, forest edges and riparian and disturbed sites. In South America it is associated with high elevations of 500-3000 m but it is recorded from sea level on Pacific islands where it occurs in gardens and plantations, along streams, and up to 2000 m in sub-alpine woodland (PIER, 2012). Across its very wide distribution it is seen to be a plant of upland tropics, also thriving in sub-tropical and warm temperate conditions.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat
Natural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Reproduces naturally by seed but may be propagated artificially by stem cuttings treated with rooting hormone, or by ‘air-layering’ (Morton, 1987). Asexual propagation by cuttings has been achieved in Colombia (Moreno et al., 2009).

Flowering occurs somewhat earlier under 8-hour daylength than under 16-hour daylength, indicating that it is a quantitative short-day plant (Heinze and Midasch, 1991). Stigmas are receptive two days before release of pollen, favouring cross-pollination – estimated at 54% (Lagos et al., 2008). Under cultivation plants may yield up to 300 fruits (Morton, 1987). There is no information seen on germination requirements. The lack of information on germination requirements suggest that there is little dormancy and no special techniques needed.

Flowering of P. peruviana occurs year round in frost-free warmer areas starting 70-80 days after sowing, while the time between flower primordia initiation and anthesis is about 3 weeks. Flowers are readily pollinated by insects and winds. Stigmas are receptive two days before release of pollen, favouring cross-pollination - estimated at 54% (Lagos et al., 2008). The fruit take 85-100 days to develop from anthesis.

Physiology and Phenology

Photosynthesis, specific leaf area and nitrogen partitioning within leaves at two light levels were studied in detail by Evans and Poorter (2001). They confirmed that P. peruviana has C3metabolism.

Elevated carbon dioxide increased total plant biomass and nitrogen for each treatment and decreased allocation to roots, leaf nitrogen concentrations and stomatal conductance. There was also a significant decline in leaf δ15N values (Stock and Evans, 2006). Flowering can occur within a few months of planting in the summer, but fruit development is mainly associated with cooler conditions.


PIER (2012) referred to P. peruviana as a 'short-lived shrub'. Morton (1987) referred to cultivated plants being maintained for up to 4 years when cut back each year after fruiting. No information seen on longevity of seeds in the soil.

Environmental Requirements

P. peruviana grows well with an annual average temperature from 13 to 18°C. Day temperatures of 27-30°C apparently do not affect fruit set, although Fischer et al. (2000) reported declines in dry matter production when root zone temperatures exceeded 22°C. Between Chile and Colombia, P. peruviana grows wild at altitudes of 1500-3000 m, and in Venezuela it grows in the Andes and the coastal range between 800 and 3000 m. Further north from the equator in Hawaii, it is found growing wild between 300 and 2400 m with temperatures between 27 and 30°C. It also grows well in Mediterranean climates. P. peruviana is hardy to USDA hardiness zone 8, which means it is damaged by frost but may recover from short exposures down to -10°C.

Rainfall requirements of P. peruviana are a minimum of 800 mm during the growing season. Higher rainfall, up to 4300 mm, increases growth and yield if the soil is well drained. The plants become dormant during drought. For proper production, 1000-2000 mm of well-distributed rainfall is needed, otherwise irrigation is required (Duarte and Paull, 2015).

The plants grow in full sun but can grow under partial shade, including that under greenhouse benches. Day length does not play a significant role in flowering as it yields well both near the equator and at high latitudes. However, Heinze and Midasch (1991), showed that flowering occurred one week earlier under 8-hour day length than under 16-hour day length, indicating that it is a quantitative short-day plant. Wind can cause significant damage to the plant.

P. peruviana plant grows well in any well-drained soil (pH 4.5-8.2) but does best on sandy to gravelly loams (Morton, 1987). It does not like heavy nor excessively wet soils. On highly fertile alluvial soil, the plant becomes very vegetative and the fruit fail to colour properly. It can be classified as moderately tolerant to sodium (Miranda et al., 2010) and to cadmium (Thiebeauld et al., 2005).


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Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
60 45 0 3000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A very wide range of natural enemies have been recorded on P. peruviana, though these are rarely noted to be severe. None have been developed for biological control.

In South Africa, cutworms, Agrotis spp., are the most important of the many insect pests that attack the seedlings of P. peruviana.  Red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) and potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella) may occur later (Morton, 1987). Other insect enemies include: Heliothis assulta in Australia (Kirkpatrick, 1961); Heliothis subflexa in Argentina (Bado et al., 2005); the lepidopteran Tuta absoluta in Italy (Tropea Garzia, et al., 2009); the aphid Macrosiphum euphorbiae in Argentina (Bado et al., 2001); the chrysomelid Lema bilineata (Bado et al., 2000); Helicoverpa armigera in India (Mehta et al., 1996); the dipteran Bactrocera latifrons in Hawaii (Liquido et al., 1994); the hemipteran Acanthocoris scabrator in India (Koshy et al. 1978) and the mite Vasates lycopersici [Aculops lycopersici] in Australia (Smith and Saundees, 1956). Fruitipedia (2012) list the broad mite Polyphagotarsonemus latus and the treehopper Antianthe expansa among pests of the crop in Hawaii.

Vascular wilting caused by Fusarium oxysporum is the most damaging disease to P. peruviana crops in Colombia (Urrea et al., 2011). Other disease problems include: Phytophthora infestans, also in Colombia (Cardenas et al., 2011); Peronospora hyoscyami f. sp. tabacina worldwide (Hall, 1989); Drechslerarostrata [Setosphaeria rostrata], Alternaria alternata and Curvularia lunata (Cochliobolus lunatus) var. aeria in India (Tandon and Narendra Singh, 1978) and sooty mould Asteridiella acervata in Hawaii (Fruitipedia, 2012). White smut, Entyloma australe occurs very widely (Mordue, 1988). In South Africa, the most troublesome diseases are powdery mildew and soft brown scale. The plants are prone to root rots and viruses if on poorly-drained soil or if carried over to a second year; hence farmers favour biennial plantings.

Bacterial diseases include: bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas spp.) in Queensland and India (Kishun et al., 1977); Agrobacterium tumefasciens in association with Meoidogyne sp. in India (Sethi et al., 1988); bacterial wilt Pseudomonas solanacearum in Hawaii (Fruitipedia, 2012) and Candidatus liberibacter subsp. solanacearum in New Zealand (Liefting et al., 2009).

P. peruviana is a host of Peru tomato virus in Peru (Fribourg, 1979). Other virus problems include tobacco mosaic tobamovirus (TMV) in Colombia and in India (Gomez et al., 1997); tomato chlorotic spot virus (Eiras et al., 2012); potato spindle tuber viroid in Slovenia (Marn and Pleško, 2012) and in New Zealand (Ward et al., 2010), and elsewhere including Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands; cucumber mosaic cucumovirus in India (Gupta and Singh, 1996); Colombian datura virus (CDV potyvirus) widely in the Americas and Europe (Salamon, 2007); tomato chlorosis virus in Portugal (Trenado et al., 2007); potato leafroll virus (Thomas and Hassan, 2002); potato Y potyvirus in India (Om Prakash et al., 1988) and tomato spotted wilt virus in South Africa (Graca et al., 1985). A strain of tobacco mosaic virus may affect plants in India (Morton, 1987).

The eelworm Meloidogyne hapla occurs in Colombia (Nino et al., 2008); and M. incognita in India (Alam and Khan, 1976). Meloidogyne sp. is also recorded for Hawaii (Fruitipedia, 2012).

Among vertebrates, hares damage young plants and birds eat the fruits if not repelled.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Vector Transmission (Biotic)

There is presumed to be dispersal by birds and mammals eating the fruits but no documentation exists.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
FoodNot documented but likely dispersal as whole fruit for sale Yes Yes
Garden waste disposalNot documented but probable Yes
HorticultureWidely dispersed as food crop Yes Yes
Nursery trade Yes Yes
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes
Seed trade Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aircraft Yes
Mail Yes Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods)
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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It has rarely been reported as a serious weed of crops, though Holm et al. (1979) list it as ‘common’ in Hawaii, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. There are no data on the crop losses caused. Conversely, it has been, and continues to be, an economically useful crop, especially in Colombia, where it is one of the most important exotic fruit exports from Colombia (Alvarez-Herrera et al., 2012). It is also important in South Africa and Kenya where there have been active breeding programmes. It has also been cultivated in a great many other countries but has lost popularity in some areas, especially Hawaii. This and much other detailed information on its use as a crop are provided by Morton (1987). It is used as a fresh fruit or, more commonly, as the basis for jams. It is high in ascorbic acid (Barcia et al., 2010). It also has some commercial value as an ornamental plant.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

It is reported as naturalised and invasive in a number of countries, especially in the Pacific, where it presumably invades and dominates natural habitats, at least on a local basis, but no detailed analysis of its impacts have been seen.

Impact on Biodiversity

The most serious effects of invasion by P. peruviana are reported from Hawaii where it threatens two endangered species, Phyllostegia parviflora and Urera kaalae (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008; 2011).

P. peruviana is regarded as an environmental weed in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria (Weeds of Australia, 2012).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Phyllostegia parviflora (smallflower phyllostegia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - stranglingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008
Urera kaalaeCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011

Social Impact

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All parts of the plant other than the fruit are said to be poisonous (PFAF, 2012). The immature fruits contain sufficient solanine to cause gastroenteritis and diarrhoea if ingested. Children should be discouraged from eating the fruits (Lampe and McCann, 1985).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition
  • Poisoning
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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The fruit of P. peruviana may be eaten fresh, in salads or in cocktails. Removed from the paper-like husks, the attractive yellow marble-sized fruit is canned whole, preserved as a jam, made into sauce, and used in pies, puddings, chutneys and ice cream. In Colombia, the fruit are stewed with honey and eaten as dessert, and a raisin-like dehydrated fruit is produced. The dried fruit can be covered with chocolate. The use of osmotic dehydration followed by hot air results in a better quality dried product. Alternatively, osmotic dehydration can be followed by pasteurization for canning the fruit in syrup (Duarte and Paull, 2015).

Fruit yield per plant was greatest at spacings over 0.6 m, but yields/m² were greatest at the closest spacings. Of the cultural techniques used, only mulch consistently increased plant growth and fruit yields. The mulch also suppressed weeds, prevented fruit contact with the ground, increased soil temperature by about 5°C on average and increased moisture retention. By using the most favourable treatments from this study yields of 13 t/ha could be expected (Klinac, 1986).

Khare (2012) refers to P. peruviana being grown ‘throughout the plains and hills in India’ and being used medicinally as a diuretic and anthelmintic, and in abdominal disorders, as well as the fruits being a good source of carotene and ascorbic acid. It is used as a traditional medicine in South Africa and was found to inhibit both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria (Jaca and Kambizi, 2011). It is used in diarrhoea management in Kenya (Njoroge et al., 2007). Pardo et al. (2008) review its use in Colombian traditional medicine and give data suggesting that the traditional use of P. peruviana fruit juice to combat pterygium, the growth of tissue over the cornea, may be related to its inhibiting fibroblast growth. Among 46 plant anthelminthics used in Madagascar, P. peruviana was the most common (Kightlinger et al., 1996). Wu ShuJing et al. (2009) describe it as a popular folk medicine in Taiwan, used for treating cancer, leukemia, hepatitis, rheumatism and other diseases and confirming some properties supporting its use against cancer. Antioxidant activity and potent hepatoprotective effect against APAP-induced liver injury in rats are reported by Chang et al. (2008). Franco et al. (2007) found it high in unidentified anti-inflammatory substances.

P. peruviana is a source of 4 beta–hydroxywithanolide which is an insect antifeedant against Spodoptera littoralis (Ascher et al., 1981; Calderon et al., 2012). Withanolides are also the basis for potential to control the fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Cirigliano et al., 2008). The range of phytochemicals in P. peruviana with potential nutritional and medicinal uses are reviewed by Hassanien (2011).

Uses List

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  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits


  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Ganapathji et al. (1991) provides a key to four Indian species, including perhaps the commonest of other Physalis species encountered worldwide. They indicate that P. peruviana is distinguished by its larger flowers (corolla over 1.3 cm diameter) from P. pubescens, P. minima and P. angulata whose corollas are less than 1 cm diameter. Other species in China, including P. angulata and P. minima, are distinguished from P. peruviana in being annual, not perennial, and having anthers less than 3 mm long (Flora of China, 2012). South Australia (2012) includes P. viscosa (sticky Cape gooseberry), P. alkekengi (Chinese lantern) and P. virginiana (= P. longifolia), all of which have a fully rhizomatous rootstock. P. philadelphia has anthers 3-4 mm long but is annual, has bright yellow flowers, fruits up to 3 cm diameter and is only sparsely pubescent.

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechanical Control

P. peruviana can be readily uprooted or hoed out when young but requires deeper digging once established.

Biological Control

No attempts at biological control have been reported.

Chemical Control

Lenacil and trifluralin are reportedly safe where P. peruviana is being grown as a crop (Legge, 1974). There is an almost total lack of information on its susceptibility to herbicides. Closely related species have proved to be resistant to many standard herbicide including 2,4-D, though Motooka et al. (2003) suggested it is ‘probably susceptible to hormone-type herbicides, especially when young, and probably to tebuthiuron’. Glyphosate is mentioned as a suitable treatment for P. viscosa, also clopyralid and picloram but all these are likely to damage surrounding crops or vegetation.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a particular need for information on germination requirements and susceptibility to herbicides.


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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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20/09/12 Original text by:

Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

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