Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Downy Ground-cherry - Physalis pubescens   L.
Members of Physalis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Solanales » Family Solanaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionWidely scattered over the state, but mainly in the southern half of the mountains, the lower Piedmont, and parts of the Coastal Plain. The species is obviously under-collected or overlooked, based on the fragmented collection records.

This is a primarily Midwestern species, though widely occurring in the East. It ranges from VT to MN, and south to southern FL and southern TX.
AbundanceNot well collected, but seemingly rare to uncommon, though not scarce in the southern mountains. Based on the overall range, it could be found in most counties of the state, eventually.
HabitatThis species has no particular habitats and grows in a variety of openings and edges, generally where somewhat dry. It even occurs on sandy soils of coastal islands.
PhenologyBlooms from July to September, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is almost the prototypical Physalis, growing to about 1.5' tall, with obviously hispid stems. The leaves are clearly green, as opposed to hoary gray-green in the related P. grisea. The leaves are ovate, about 2" long and 1.5" wide, with wavy margins or with shallowly lobed margins. This species has blue anthers, whereas P. virginiana and P. heterophylla have yellow anthers. Also, this species has short calyx lobes, barely 1/4" long; those other species have the lobes longer than 1/4". Even so, you may have trouble separating this species from several others, and the fact that collection records are so spotty across the state strongly suggests that botanists are overlooking it.
Taxonomic CommentsRAB (1968) included two other taxa with this one into the large (sensu latu) P. pubescens, naming this taxon as P. pubescens var. pubescens. Most references have had these three separated as good species.

Other Common Name(s)Husk Tomato, Low Ground-cherry
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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