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Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Secret of the Clammy Ground-Cherry -- Revealed!
I bet you thought I forgot all about my promise to finish the story of the Clammy Ground Cherry. I didn't, but the sneaky plant wouldn't cooperate to share that secret before I went hiking, and I finally got around to checking to see if it was too late, now that I'm home. If you want to catch up on the beginning of the story, go to The Secret of the Clammy Ground Cherry
Here is the seed pod, matured from its tiny beginnings in July. See it? Maybe you think that it looks like the ornamental plants called "Chinese Lantern Plant." And that would make you very observant! They are close cousins. This plant is Physalis heterophylla, and the ornamental is Physalis alkekengi.
Note on this plant that the seed pod, really just an inflated calyx (the small leaves that grown "behind" the flower), turns golden as it ages. This makes it really look like a little lantern! But this is only half the secret.
Here we are! Inside each one of those seed pods is one single little "cherry." Note that even though the pod I've broken open here is green that the fruit has become a dull gold. If you open the pod and find a golden cherry you are in for a special treat... they are edible! They have sweet-tart sort of taste, sort of like a kiwi, but unique in its own way. The fruits are sticky, which may be where the "clammy" part of the name comes from. I just like to eat them as I find them while walking. But they can be collected. A friend once made relish from the fruits that was good served with meat.
See The Secret of the Clammy Ground Cherry