The Cape Gooseberry, looks a little like a tomatillo, to which it is closely related and has the same kind of husk around its fruit. It is a member of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family of plants and so is related to the more common potato, tomato, aubergine and the rather unusual Nipple fruit. As the name peruviana suggests it is native to South America, although it seems not to be clear where it actually originated with best guesses being Chile and Peru, or perhaps Brazil. It also grows wild in the Andes in Venezuela.
   It is a cherry-sized berry that is around 1.5 to 2.5 centimetres in diameter, with yellow flesh which is loosely (more loosely than a tomatillo) enclosed in a papery husk, another of Nature’s pre-packaged foods. These fruits are actually berries as they contain seeds, and they can be orange or golden yellow. It tastes like a gooseberry, perhaps more like an Indian gooseberry (Amla) than the European one. They can be used in salads with tender young greens, such as watercress, spinach, or lettuce, with a vinaigrette dressing (olive oil and white wine vinegar with tarragon or oregano perhaps). You can add them to your breakfast muesli or other cereal, and below is a recipe for a dessert made with them. They can be put in pies, used to make jams and sauces, and are usually displayed in supermarkets with other berry fruits such as raspberries, strawberries or blackberries or with grapes and pomegranates. You can add them to fruit salads, or have them with ice cream, pickle them, and you’ll find the husk helpful if you want to coat them in icing sugar. In Colombia they are stewed with honey and used as a dessert. The ripe fruit are rich in pectin and vitamin P as well as containing some B-complex vitamins, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and some vitamin A precursors as well as Beta-carotene. They are rich in phosphorous, and also contain the minerals calcium, iron and copper. Unripe fruits are toxic and shouldn’t be eaten.
  The plants were taken to Africa and planted in the Cape of Good Hope in the 19th century and then they went from there to Australia which is why and where it got the English name. In fact it has naturalized in New South Wales, where the early settlers had little choice of fresh fruit at first, so they were glad of the advent of the Cape gooseberry. It is also naturalized in the Philippines and was once extensively cultivated on Hawaii. In fact it is said that it will grow wherever the tomato can flourish, so it grows in many countries around the world.
  The husk contains a minor steroidal constituent, physalolactone C which is a blood purifier. The fruit possesses strong antioxidant properties and has been used in the past to treat cancer, malaria, asthma, hepatitis, dermatitis and rheumatism. In Colombia, in traditional medicine, the leaves are made into a decoction which is used for asthma and as a diuretic. In South Africa a poultice is made with heated leaves and applied to inflamed areas. The Zulus use an infusion of the leaves for children with stomach complaints.

Cape gooseberries, fresh or canned
Bar of chocolate (white, dark or milk depending on taste)

Melt the chocolate carefully so that it doesn’t burn in a non-stick pan.
Remove from the heat when the chocolate is melted and dip each Cape gooseberry in it.
Chill and serve alone or with ice cream or whipped cream.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


  1. Bless You ,I live in N,E Arizona I have found under the juniper trees a small plant very simaler it had small purple flowers and had the fruit as said above, One book said it was all posion I get so confused Because I have eaten the small berri and not got sick,it has a sticky stuff around the berri but Not on the outer shell
    I call it a American Indian tomitillo ? What or how should I try to find out more about this plant ? May I send it to u ? Even in books on Az plants seem to get it mix up,, Thank you

  2. I just want to say that all the information you have given here is awesome. Thank you
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