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Poha, photo courtesy of Joshua McCullough/PhytoPhoto
Poha, photo courtesy of Joshua McCullough/PhytoPhoto

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Zones H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular Water

Poha, Ground Cherry

Edible fruit, Perennials

From Brazil, but naturalized at higher elevations throughoutHawaiian Islands. Known botanically as Physalis peruviana and closely related to tomatillo (P.ixocarpa) and Chinese lantern plant (P. alkekengi). Bushy plantwith heart-shaped, irregularlytoothed, somewhat velvetygreen leaves to 2 1/2–6 in. long. As a perennial, it can reach 6 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide (needs support); as an annual, it is more likely to grow 1 1/2–3 ft. high and wide. Plant produces small, bell-shapedspring flowers that are whitish yellow with brown spots in the throat. After blossoms fade, the enlarged calyx forms a loose, papery, straw-colored husk around the fruit. The seedy, inch-wide yellow fruit ripens from late summer into autumn; it is smaller and sweeter than tomatillo and can be eaten fresh or used in pies and preserves.

Grow in well-drained soil in a frost-free, wind-protected site. Plant is self-fruitful, but you can help ensure pollination by gentlyshaking flower stems or spraying them lightly with water. No fertilizer needed. Cut back on watering when fruit is maturing. Harvest fruit when it drops to ground; remove papery husks before using. Plant often self-sows.

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