This story began last year when I decided that I had grown far too many tomato plants, and I promised myself that I would try to regain some composure this year. Even with that promise in place, I had something new on the list to try this year; a tomatillo. In the plant family of Solanaceae or “nightshades”, tomatillos are in the genus Physalis. The tomatillo fruit is similar in size to a cherry tomato, and features a “paper like” husk. Depending on the source, you may also see tomatillo called Mexican husk tomato, ground cherry, Chinese lantern, and other names.
In keeping with my desire to not be overrun with tomatoes, I decided to start small and put a single tomatillo plant in the garden. Intrigued by its description of golden fruits with a hint of citrus flavor, I selected a tomatillo called the Pineapple Ground Cherry.
From Purdue University… “The Mexican husk tomato [Physalis] is highly self-incompatible. When the flowering plants are bagged, no fruits are set.” And, from Wikipedia… “Some species are self-incompatible and require multiple plants for fruit set.”
So, I gardened, I learned, and next year I will opt to grow several tomatillo plants. The beautiful little flowers on my lonely tomatillo make it a nice ornamental addition to the garden. Hopefully, next year, it will be a tasty
addition as well!
additional sources: Purdue University Horticulture, Mexican Husk Tomato, Morton, J. 1987. Wikipedia.org: Physalis.