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Quincula lobata (Purple groundcherry)
Cressler, Alan

Quincula lobata

Quincula lobata (Torr.) Raf.

Purple Groundcherry, Chinese Lantern, Purple Ground Cherry

Solanaceae (Potato Family)

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.


From the Image Gallery

26 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: No more than 6 inches tall.
Leaf: Gray-green.
Flower: Flower 1 inch.
Fruit: 4-7 mm.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Blooms until frost.


USA: 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 Conditions

Water 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.


Use 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

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 on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1009 Collected 2007-04-05 in Starr County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 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.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Quincula lobata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quincula lobata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quincula lobata


Record Modified: 2023-05-23
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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