Quincula lobata (Torr.) Raf.
Purple Groundcherry, Chinese Lantern
Solanaceae (Potato Family)
Synonym(s): Physalis lobata, Physalis lobata var. albiflora
USDA Symbol: QULO2
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: No more than 6 inches tall
Flower: Flower 1 inch
Fruit: 4-7 mm
Size Class: 0-1 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Blooms until frost.
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , CO , KS , NM , NV , OK , TX , 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Low-growing, decorative, deciduous ground cover for the Southwest
Use Food: Berries edible, but be sure you've got the right plant, as similar-looking species in the genera Physalis and Solanum can be toxic.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
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
BibliographyBibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Quincula lobata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quincula lobata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quincula lobata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-10-07
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG