THE MOST EXOTIC FRUIT IN OUR GARDEN IS DEFINITELY OUR PHYSALIS OR CAPE GOOSEBERRY. They are also know as Chinese lanterns and they are normally found as decorations on deserts. Most people don't seem to know that they can be eaten and so they are pushed aside, but they are absolutely gorgeous.
Roughly two years ago Chris decided that he was going to sow the seeds from some fruits we had bought in a shop. I thought that they would never grow but I was wrong and we ended up with about 8 little plants.
Here is one of them today, looking nice and healthy along with two little nasturtium stow aways. It will grow up to about 3ft or 1m tall.
The leaves get about 15cm long and are covered with downy hairs.
The stems are also very downy. You can see that new shoots grow from the junctions of old ones. Apparently Cape Gooseberries are related to the tomato plants which also produces side shoots like these.
Here is the first flower appearing this year on May 10th. It's the upside down tear shaped darker object.
Here you can see the flower developing. They seem to grow at the tops of sturdy shoots and there are three growing here although you can only see one.
Shortly after this the flower will begin to hang down and the other flowers get pulled farther away as the stem grows upwards.
When we get fruits I will put some up pictures here so come back in a few months!
ABOUT CAPE GOOSEBERRIES
New plants are generally grown from seedlings every year however ours are in their third season now and are still going strong. We will probably save some seeds for next year just in case.....
The fruits are round, shiny, about 1cm across and a pale orange colour with loads of seeds inside. They grow encased in a paper case that looks like a chinese lantern.
They can be eaten fresh on their own or in fruit cocktails. They keep for a few months in a dry atmosphere once picked. They can also be used to make jam, sauces, used in pies, puddings, chutneys and ice cream.In Colombia, the fruits are stewed with honey and eaten as dessert and can also be dried.
Here is some information on the nutritional value and it's possible medicinal uses that I came across here
Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
|Ascorbic Acid||43.0 mg|
*According to analyses of husked fruits made in Ecuador.
The ripe fruits are considered a good source of Vitamin P and are rich in pectin.
In Colombia, the leaf decoction is taken as a diuretic and anti asthmatic. In South Africa, the heated leaves are applied as poultices on inflammations and the Zulus administer the leaf infusion as an enema to relieve abdominal ailments in children.
For more information on how to grow these wonderful fruits come back in a few weeks when I will do a post on sowing and raising them.