Goldenberries or Gooseberries?


Are the plants in the picture Golden berries or gooseberries  & are they edible, how do I harvest them?


Having two gooseberry bushes of my own the leaves in your photo are not those found on a gooseberry bush. The shape of the fruit in your photo certainly resembles goldenberry (Physalis peruviana).  As it happens golden berries are commonly known as Cape Gooseberries but they are not related at all. Goldenberry go by a variety of other names such as ground cherry, Poha berries, Inca cherry and husk cherry.  There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of information out there regarding goldenberries from a gardeners point of view. They grow in South America, South Africa, Hawaii and the Philippines and are one of the lesser known members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). They actually are quite unusual in that the fruits are covered by a husk or papery calyx.  These plants enjoy growing in full sun, although partial shade will do. The soil needs to be well-drained and anywhere in the pH range of 5 – 8. In our climate they would be grown from seed as they are not cold hardy.

The fruit is usually ready to harvest mid to late summer and is considered ripe when the husks have turned from green to tan and the fruit falls from the plant, no picking required. If the husks are still attached just peel them off. Once your fruit begins to ripen begin checking your plants and harvesting nearly every day. Apparently the goldenberry is very nutritious. You must make sure that the fruits are fully ripened before eating. Fruits must be fully orange/tan in colour for eating safely. The ripe berries are good for making jelly, jam and preserves.

A note of caution: Because these fruits are nightshades they contain solanine and other solanidine alkaloids. These are considered toxins and can be found in lethal levels in the unripe fruit and leaves of the cape gooseberry. Do NOT allow consumption of the unripe fruit or the leaves of this plant by any humans, livestock, or pets.