Physalis walteri

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Physalis walteri
Physalis walteri.jpg
Photo taken by Kevin Robertson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Physalis
Species: P. walteri
Binomial name
Physalis walteri
PHYS WALT dist.jpg
Natural range of Physalis walteri from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Walter's groundcherry, dune ground-cherry[1]

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Physalis walteri var. walteri[1]

Varieties: none[1]


P. walteri is a rhizomatous perennial. The leaves are ovate, elliptic, obovate or spatulate, 2-10× as long as wide, and stellate pubescent. The flowers are 1 per leaf axil while the berries have flattened, reniform seeds only.[1]


P. walteri ranges from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and west to Mississippi.[1]



P. walteri has been observed to be growing naturally on beach dunes and back dunes, in longleaf pine flatwoods, turkey oak sandridges, sandy banks bordering salt marhes,longleaf pine/wiregrass uplands, and slash pine flatwoods.[2] It has been seen in human disturbed areas such as pine plantations, old fields, plowed lots, vacant lots, roadsides near beaches, roadside ditches, pastures and levees, lawns, and clearing of a swamp forest.[2] The soil type associated with P. walteri includes dry loamy sand, loamy sand, and calcerous soils (such as limerock).[2] Associated species include Tragia smallii, Pinus palustris, Physalis arenicola, Lobelia puberula, Quercus laevis, Sporobolus, Serenoa repens, Yucca, Lyonia, Lantana, Camara, Carex hyalinolepis, Melica mutica, Aristida, Pinus elliottii, and Helianthus debilis.[2]

Physalis walteri is an indicator species for the North Florida Subxeric Sandhills community type as described in Carr et al. (2010).[3]


P. walteri flowers from May through September.[1]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates.[4]

Fire ecology

Populations of Physalis walteri have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[5][6]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

The fruit can be used a substitute for tomatoes.[7]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: M Y Menzel, R W Menzel, Loran C. Anderson, James R. Burkhalter, Robert K. Godfrey, O. Lakela, William Lindsey, J. B. Nelson, R. H. Wnek, C. Jackson, Robert L. Lazor, Andre F. Clewell, Robert Kral, George R. Cooley, R. J. Eaton, Sidney McDaniel, Cecil R Slaughter, Marc Minno, James D. Ray, Jr., C. E. Wood, C. E. Smith, R. D. Houk, Ann F. Johnson, M. Davis, Richard R. Clinebell II, D. E. Etles, M. S. Etles, William Lindsey, A. H. Curtiss, D. B. Ward, D. Burch. States and Counties: Florida: Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Citrus, Collier, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Hernando, Holmes, Jefferson, Leon, Levy, Martin, Monroe, Nassau, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Orange, Santa Rosa, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Seminole, Suwannee, Taylor, Volusia, Wakulla. Georgia: Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  3. Carr, S.C., K.M. Robertson, and R.K. Peet. 2010. A vegetation classification of fire-dependent pinelands of Florida. Castanea 75:153-189.
  4. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  5. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  6. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.
  7. Fernald, et al. 1958. Edible Plants of Eastern North America. Harper and Row Publishers, New York.