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Sky Meadows Park
Crooked Run Valley
longleaf groundcherry (Physalis longifolia var. subglabrata)
TAXONOMY: The currently acccepted scientific name for longleaf grouncherry is Physalis longifolia Nutt. var. subglabrata (Mack. & Bush) Cronquist. The taxonomic situation with Virginia groundcherry has been unsettled - some authorities treat it as a separate species (i.e., Physais subglabrata) while others treat it as a variety of Physalis virginiana). It can appear in the literature as any one of the above three.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United State and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Longleaf groundcherry is a herbaceous perennial that grows to 1 meter tall from a caudex well below ground. Stems angled, purple-green, glabrous or with a few appressed hairs on angles, minutely winged on angles, (wings -1mm broad), branching (divergent) above, typically erect but also reclining with age.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate and petiolate. Blade formation is lanceolate to ovate, glabrous or with sparse pubescent above. Leaves typically oblique at base, to +15cm long, +9cm broad. Margins entire to sinuate or coarsely dentate. Midrib purple with antrorse appressed pubescence. Petiole to +4cm long, winged.
Flowers: The inflorescence is composed of single axillary flowers on peduncle to 2cm long. Flowers are pendant with funnel-shaped corolla, +2cm broad, sparse pubescent externally, dense pubescent (tomentose) internally in tube, yellow with purple at base. The corolla tube is 5-6mm long; there are 5 stamens. Filaments thick, purple, glabrous, 5-6mm long while the anthers are yellow and 3.5mm long. The ovary is green, glabrous, subglobose, 2-locular. The calyx is tubular and 5-lobed; tube to 5mm long. Lobes are acuminate, to 6mm long, 4mm broad at base. Calyx tube inflating at maturity and surrounding fruit, to 3cm long, -3cm in diameter. Calyx becoming papery, enclosing the globose, berry fruit. Fruit pendant.
Fruit/Seed: At maturity, the berries are about ½" across, yellow, smooth, and globoid in shape; they have fleshy interiors that contain many seeds. The small flattened seeds are 1.5–2 mm. long and a little less across; they are pale yellow and short-reniform in shape.
Roots: The root system is rhizomatous, from which clonal offsets develop.
HABITAT TYPES: Longleaf groundcherry can be found in rich woods, disturbed areas of black soil prairies, weedy meadows, thickets, ravines, bases of slopes, streambanks, thickets, pastures, disturbed sites, aban-
doned fields and pastures, gardens and yards, and waste ground, areas along roadsides and railroads.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Longleaf groundcherry prefers full to partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and soil consisting of fertile loam.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period is from May till September.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Longleaf groundcherry occurs through-out most of the United States, absent from parts of southwest (Arizona and Nevada) and upper plains states (Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota). It occurs in the eastern Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Halictid bees (including green metallic bees), plasterer bees (Colletes spp.) and other short-tongued bees visit the flowers for nectar and pollen. Some of these bees are specialist pollinators (oligoleges) of ground cherries (Physalis spp.); they include two plasterer bees, Colletes latitarsis and Colletes willistoni, and a dagger bee, Perdita halictoides. Other insects feed destructively on these plants. These insect feeders consist primarily of various leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), including Lemma daturaphila (three-lined potato beetle), Lema trivittata (three-striped potato beetle), Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle), Leptinotarsa juncta (false potato beetle), Plagiometriona clavata (clavate tortoise beetle), Epitrix cucumeris (potato flea beetle), Epitrix fuscula (eggplant flea beetle), Epitrix hirtipennis (tobacco flea beetle), and other Epitrix spp. (flea beetles) that are attracted to the Solanaceae. Generally, the adults of these beetles feed on foliage, while the larvae feed on either roots or foliage. The larvae of some moths also feed on ground cherries. The larvae of a Noctuid moth, Heliothis subflexus (subflexus straw), feed on the fruits of these plants, while the larvae of Heliothis virescens (tobacco budworm) feed on the buds, flowers, and fruits. The larvae of two Sphinx moths, Manduca quinquemaculata (tomato hornworm) and Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm), feed primarily on the foliage of these plants, while the larvae of a Gelechiid moth, Aristotelia physaliella, are leaf-miners. Some vertebrate animals eat the fruits of ground cherries, helping to spread the seeds of these plants to new locations. These fruit-eating animals include the bobwhite quail, wild turkey, opossum, striped skunk, spotted skunk, pine mouse, white-footed mouse, eastern box turtle, and ornate box turtle. Like other species in the Nightshade family (Solanaceae), ground cherries have foliage that is bitter-tasting and toxic. As a result, mammalian herbivores avoid its consumption.