The Coastal Groundcherry, is a species of flowering plant in the nightshade family. It is native to the Gulf Coast shoreline of the Southeastern United States, where it is found on maritime dunes and sands. I found these in the dunes of a beach on the west coast of Florida in March.
Groundcherry has a sweet acidic citrus / pineapple taste. They are usually larger than a marble and full of small white seeds that can be eaten. The skin of the fruit can be tough to bite through making the Groundcherry pop when you bite into it.
The Groundcherry is edible raw or cooked in pies or preserves. I usually eat them raw, but I have enjoyed a pie made of Groundcherry. The fruit can fall from the plant before it is ripe. That usually takes a week or two or more until the husk has dried and the fruit a golden yellow to orange. Each fruit is wrapped in a husk. The fruit will store several weeks if left in the husk. Unripe fruit — light green — is toxic. Do not eat green fruit or the husk. Ripe fruits are golden yellow to orange. If any ripe fruit has bitter aftertaste, don’t eat it.
I have grown several varieties of Groundcherry, but I am excited to find the Coastal Groundcherry to grow at the 40 Acre Woods. The sandy soil I have is a good match to the dunes where these plants thrive. I saved several for seed and planted them around the woods this spring.