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Flaigg, Norman G.
Quincula lobata (Torr.) Raf.
Purple groundcherry, Chinese lantern
Synonym(s): Physalis lobata, Physalis lobata var. albiflora
USDA Symbol: QULO2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Purple groundcherry grows almost flat on the ground. Leaves are alternate, 1 1/2–3 inches long and not quite as broad, often coarsely toothed or deeply cut, with rounded lobes. The flower is bluish-purple, with 5 united petals that open out to form a flat surface 3/4–1 1/4 inches across. It has 5 stamens with yellow anthers. This flower seems not to be much affected by drought.
It is an attractive, low-growing, full sun or light shade groundcover for much of the Southwest, with purple, blue, or white flowers and fuzzy, gray-green leaves. It blooms until frost, when the top dies, but the roots continue to expand throughout the winter, sending up new growth in the spring for a larger colony each year. The berry is edible, but caution is advised, for the flower resembles some of those of Solanum, a genus with both edible and deadly berries. Purple Groundcherry was formerly placed in the genus Physalis, but the purple flower and the flat, scale-like hairs on the leaves are considered distinctive.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Breeding System:
Flowers Bisexual Size Notes:
No more than 6 inches tall Leaf:
Gray-green Flower: Flower
4-7 mm Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Blooms until frost.
, UT Native Distribution:
Southeastern California east across southern Nevada to southeastern Utah, eastern Colorado, and western Kansas, and south to western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico. Native Habitat:
Woodland edges, forest openings, fields
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained sand, sandy loam, loam, clay, caliche
Conditions Comments: Prefers full sun or light shade, like under a mesquite tree.
Low-growing, decorative, deciduous
ground cover for the Southwest Use Food:
Berries edible, but be sure youve got the right plant, as similar-looking species in the genera Physalis
can be toxic. Conspicuous Flowers:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TX
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1009
Collected 2007-04-05 in Starr County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Record Last Modified: 2009-03-15
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG