While walking around the property with Rhiannon yesterday, I happened upon a curious, yet somewhat familiar looking plant growing in the ditch alongside our road:
Looks like ground cherries (or husk cherries), what a treat! I didn't know they grew wild. But the seeds easily could have made it from my compost heap just up the hill to this final resting and growing place. I tried to grow ground cherries from seed last year, but nothing came up so I just tossed all the soil and seeds into the compost pile.
Technically, I've never seen a live ground cherry plant. But I've seen pictures. And how many plants have little dried paper lantern looking things covering round tomato-looking fruits?
So I popped several in my mouth. None of them were really yellow yet, but they still tasted good. Kind of like tomatillos actually, but in a smaller package. The two are probably related, I should look that up.
And having swallowed a handful of the fruits, I had one of those hot-flash moments. Shit. Are there poisonous look alikes? I made my way back towards the house, all the while continually reminding myself the entire walk that I was sure that those were ground cherries. (Right? Right. I'm sure. Well, not 100%, but close. It tasted like it should have; it it were poisonous, it would have tasted bad. Right? Shit. Where's the Ipecac syrup?).
Well it seems that they were, in fact, ground cherries. One website said that the leaves and unripe fruits are poisonous, while other posts in vegetable forums said that the fruits are fine. It is part of the Nightshade family, so I can understand the extra caution given to anything about them. I also saw several forum posters griping that they couldn't start them from seed, but once you got them going, they volunteer like crazy.
I'm going to keep an eye on this plant and harvest some more for eating as they ripen, but I think I'll keep several to dry up and use them for seeds next year.
Wait....was there a lesson in all of this? If so, I've forgotton.
Oh look, something growing alongside the road!