Physalis alkekengi

1. Physalis alkekengi L. (Euras.) – A rare and decreasing escape from cultivation. Formerly naturalised (possibly archaeophytic) in a small area in the province of Liège (see Durand 1899 for an overview) but already extinct before 1930 (Lambinon 1980). Present-day records are usually ephemeral although larger, apparently naturalised populations are still sometimes seen, for instance on a bank of the canal Dessel-Schoten (near Botermelk) in 2006.

Physalis alkekengi is a very variable species. Two varieties – of disputed taxonomic rank (considered as distinct species by some authors or as conspecific by others) – are usually distinguished: var. alkekengi from Eurasia and var. franchetii (Masters) Makino (syn.: P. franchetii Masters) from eastern Asia (China). However, their distinction is rarely straightforward and intermediate plants do occur (possibly hybrids that are sometimes referred to as var. bunyardii Hort. ex Makino; see van Ooststroom & Reichgelt 1962). Var. franchetii, a taller plant with larger fruiting calyces, is the usual plant in cultivation. Both varieties are distinguished as follows:

  • Fruiting calyx 20-40 mm long at maturity, red, pubescent. Plant often small, rarely exceeding 60 cm === var. alkekengi
  • Fruiting calyx 40-60 mm long at maturity, orange or orange-red, glabrescent. Plant often taller, up to 100 cm === var. franchetii

Physalis alkekengi, Balen (Langvennen), former dump, September 2009, R. Barendse.

Herbarium specimen


Selected literature:

Franz W.R. (1993) Bemerkungen zu den in Kärnten nachgewiesenen Sippen der Gattung Judenkirsche (Physalis L. – Solanaceae). Carinthia II 183: 291-301.

Durand T. (1899) Phanérogames. In: De Wildeman E. & Durand T., Prodrome de la flore belge. A. Castaigne Editeur, Bruxelles: 1112 p.

Hendrych R. (1989) Physalis alkekengi, in Europa und in der Tschechoslowakei besonders. Acta Univ. Carol.-Biol. 33: 1-42.

Lambinon J. (1980) L’herbier Hélène de Luesemans: quelques récoltes botaniques intéressantes de la région d’Aywaille (province de Liège) il y a trois quarts de siècle. Nat.

Van Ooststroom S.J. & Reichgelt Th.J. (1962) De in Nederland adventieve en gekweekte Physalis-soorten. Gorteria 1(7): 65-71.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith