Cape Gooseberries (Physalis peruviana)
The Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) is also known as Physalis, ground cherry, golden berry, Poha berry or Aguaymanto. The Physalis peruviana belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants.
Native to Peru and Chile, where the fruits are casually eaten and occasionally sold in markets, the Physalis has been widely introduced into cultivation in other tropical, subtropical and even temperate areas. It is said to succeed wherever tomatoes can be grown.
I did not know that the fruit grows in Mallorca, but it does. A friend of ours has planted six or seven plants in his finca near Felanitx. The plants have no more than 1 m in height at the moment, but are full with the fruit, husked in its single papery pod that covers each berry.
The plant needs full sun but protection from strong winds; plenty of rain throughout its growing season, very little when the fruits are maturing. Perfect for the climate here, in Mallorca.
The ripe fruits are considered a good source of Vitamin P and are rich in pectin.
There are some medicinal uses, such as in Colombia, where the leaf decoction is taken as a diuretic and antiasthmatic. 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.
Indian chemists have isolated from the leaves a minor steroidal constituent, Physalolactone C.