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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Clammy Ground-cherry - Physalis heterophylla

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Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SU
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Though uncommon and apparently native to the state, the species tolerates and even prefers disturbed habitats such as roadsides. As a result, the species does not appear to a suitable target for further tracking or conservation efforts.
General Description
Stems erect, simple or branched, 20–40 cm. Herbage pubescent; the stem with long, multicellular hairs and short, glandular hairs. Leaves: blades ovate, basally asymmetrical, entire to crenate, 2–6 cm long; petioles 1–4 cm long. Flowers: pedicels 8–15 mm long, calyx tube 7–12 mm long, longer than the lobes; corolla 12–18 mm long, limb 12–18 mm wide. Berry 1–2 cm long, the swollen calyx 3–4 cm long (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Flowering and fruiting from May to October.

Diagnostic Characteristics
There is little information on the distribution of all three species of ground cherry in Montana, and their ranges are likely to overlap. The three species are differentiated in the Great Plains Flora (1986) by pubescence characteristics. Physalis heterophylla differs from P. virginiana var. hispida in that it has glandular hairs rather than non-glandular, reflexed hairs. It differs from P. hederifolia in having longer fruiting pedicels that are 10-15 mm (0.4-0.6 in) long vs. 3-10 mm (0.12-0.4 in) long, as well as a typically bigger leaf that is 5-10 cm (0.2-0.4 in) long vs. 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) long.

Range Comments
MT to NS south to UT, TX and FL (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 7

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Boggs, K. W. 1984. Succession in riparian communities of the lower Yellowstone River, Montana. M.S. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman, 107 pp.
    • Heidel, B.L. and K.H. Dueholm. 1995. Sensitive plant survey in the Sioux District, Custer National Forest, 1994, Carter County, Montana and Harding County, South Dakota. Unpublished report to the Custer National Forest. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 95 pp. plus appendices.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Clammy Ground-cherry"
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Citation for data on this website:
Clammy Ground-cherry — Physalis heterophylla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from