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Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez (Solanaceae): A new distributional record for India

  • Thiagarajar College (Autonomous), madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez (Solanaceae): A new distributional record for India. I3 Biodiversity. 3, 302. Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez (Solanaceae): A new distributional record for India Abstract The occurrence of Physalis grisea (Solanaceae) in India is reported for the first time. Detailed description, a taxonomic comparison and images are provided.
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Citation: Kottaimuthu, R., Rajasekar, C., Muthupandi, C.P. & Rajendran, K. (2019) Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez (Solanaceae): A new
distributional record for India. I3 Biodiversity. 3, 302.
Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez
(Solanaceae): A new distributional record for
R. Kottaimuthu1,3,*, C. Rajasekar2,3, C. P. Muthupandi1, K. Rajendran1
1Department of Botany, Thiagarajar College, Madurai-625009, Tamil Nadu, India.
2Department of Botany, Bharathiar University, Tamil Nadu, India.
3Department of Botany, Alagappa University, Karaikudi-630003, Tamil Nadu, India.
*Corresponding author. Email:
The occurrence of Physalis grisea (Solanaceae) in India is reported for the first time. Detailed
description, a taxonomic comparison and images are provided.
The genus Physalis commonly known as husk tomato or ground
cheery and it is characterized by inflated fruiting calyces that enclose the
fruit. It comprises about 90 species (POWO, 2018) and the centre of
diversity is Mexico with over 70 species (Whitson & Manos, 2005), most of
which are endemic to South America (Martinez, 1998; Hunziker, 2001).
Physalis is well known for its edible fruits (Kallianpur et al., 2016;
Ganapathy, 1988) but it is an extremely puzzling genus among Solanaceae
with considerable taxonomic and nomenclatural complexity (Hepper,
1987; Sudhakaran & Ganapathi, 1993, 1999). Deb (1980) has enumerated
six species viz., P. alkekengi L., P. angulata L., P. ixocarpa Brot. ex DC., P.
longifolia Nutt. and P. peruviana L. from India, there after four species viz.,
Physalis alvarisii M.R. Almeida & S.M. Almeida, P. heterophylla Nees, P. joe-
diasii M. R.Almeida & S.M. Almeida and Physalis maxima Mill. have been
added to the Physalis of India (Almeida, 2001; Babu, 1977; Raju et al., 2007;
Singh & Pandey, 2002). In Tamil Nadu, it is represented by six species
(Kottaimuthu & Kalidass, 2015).
During botanical surveys conducted by the first author for the
documentation of Solanaceae of Tamil Nadu, the author was stumbled
upon by certain Physalis specimens collected from the coastal areas of
Nagapattinam district. Critical studies with relevant literature (Sullivan,
2004; Waterfall, 1958) and type specimens housed at Gray Herbarium it
was authenticated as Physalis grisea. On reviewing literature it came to
know that hitherto the strawberry tomato has not been reported from
India. Thus the present collection constitutes a new distributional record
for India. It is described here under with detailed description, phenology
and other relevant details for easy identification of the taxa in the field.
Accepted: 03 January 2019
Published: 20 January 2019
© 2019 Kottaimuthu et al.
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Physalis grisea from India
Figure 1. Physalis grisea.
a-Habit; b-stem; c & d-leaf abaxial and adaxial view; e-flower bud; f-flower; g-fruits
Available from:; Volume: 3, Article ID: 302; 20 January 2019.
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Physalis grisea from India
Taxonomic Treatment
Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M.Martínez in Taxon 42(1): 104. 1993.
Physalis pubescens Porter & J.M.Coult. var. grisea Waterf. in Rhodora 60:
167. 1958. (Figure 1).
Annual, erect herbs, 30-60 cm high; stem angular, much branched,
spreading, covered with glandular-pubescent hairs. Leaves simple,
alternate; lamina broadly ovate, 4-10 x 3-9.2 cm, hoary green when fresh,
drying orange or with orange patches, glandular-pubescent on both
surfaces, base rounded-cordate, margin coarsely dentate, acute at apex.
Petioles 3-7 cm long. Flowers yellow, solitary, auxillary; pedicels 5-6 mm
long. Calyx-tube pubescent, lobes 1.5-3 mm long, pubescent. Corolla
yellow, campanulate, with 5 large, dark brown spots in the throat; corolla-
lobes up to 8 mm long. Stamens 5, epipetalous; anther blue, 1-2 mm long,
filaments half as wide as anthers. Ovary ovoid-subglobose, 3-5 mm long.
Fruiting calyx green, 5-angled, sunken at base, 2-3.5 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm in
diameter; fruiting pedicel 5-12 mm long.
Flowering & Fruiting: November-January.
Distribution: INDIA (Tamil Nadu), ALABAMA, BELGIUM, ILLIONIS,
Specimens examined: U.S.A., Massachusets, Cambridge, 24 Sep 1884,
Deane s.n. (Barcode 00003293GH!); Tamil Nadu, Nagapattinam District,
Vedaranyam, around the temple premises, 100 22’ 29 N; 790 50’ 57 E, R.
Kottaimuthu 30118 (TCH!); Velankanni to Vellapallam road side, 100 41’
08 N; 790 50’ 02 E, R. Kottaimuthu 30139 (TCH!).
Taxonomic note: Physalis grisea is often confused with P. pruinosa
(Martinez, 1993), but it can be distinguished from the latter by its corolla
with brown spots on the throat (vs corolla with 5 pale green inconspicuous
spots on the throat), fruiting calyx as long as broad, acute at apex (fruiting
calyx longer than broad, acuminate at apex) anthers blue (vs anthers
yellow) and leaves dentate from base and drying orange (leaves dentate
from middle and drying yellow).
We are grateful to retd. Dr. G.V.S. Murthy, Scientist ‘G’, Botanical Survey of
India, Southern Regional Centre, Coimbatore for giving permission to
consult the library and to the Management, Thiagarajar College, Madurai
for facilities and encouragement.
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Physalis grisea from India
Almeida, M.R. (2001) Flora of Maharashtra, Vol. III. Mumbai, Orient Press.
Babu, C.R. (1977) Herbaceous flora of Dehra Dun. New Delhi, Council of
Scientific and Industrial Research.
Deb, D.B. (1980) Enumeration, synonymy and distribution of the
Solanaceae in India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany. 1, 3354.
Ganapathy, A. (1988) On the occurrence of Physalis angulata L. in Tamil
Nadu. Current Science. 57(2), 9899.
Hepper, F.N. (1987) Solanaceae. In: Dassanayake, M.D. & Fosberg, F.R.
(eds.) A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. 6. New Delhi, Amerind
Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.
Hunziker, A.T. (2001) Genera Solanacearum. The genera of Solanaceae
illustrated, arranged according to a new system. Ruggell, Gantner Verlag.
Kallianpur, S.S., Gokarn, R.A. & Rajashekhar, N. (2016) Identity of aṅkārī
(Physalis minima Linn.) in Ayurvedic classics: A literature review. Ancient
Science of Life. 36(1), 216230.
Kottaimuthu, R. & Kalidass, C. (2015) Physalis pruinosa L. (Solanaceae)-
Addition to the flora of Tamil Nadu. Indian Journal of Forestry. 38(1), 77
Martinez, M. (1993) The correct application of Physalis pruinosa L.
(Solanaceae). Taxon. 42, 103104.
Martinez, M. (1998) Revisión of Physalis section Epeteiorhiza
(Solanaceae). Anales del Instituto de Biología serie Botánica. 69, 71117.
POWO (2018) Physalis.
2#children (accessed on 14 November 2018).
Raju, V.S., Reddy, C.S. & Rajarao, K.G. (2007) The myth of minima and
maxima, the species of Physalis in the Indian subcontinent. Acta
Phytotaxonomic Sinica. 45(2), 239245.
Singh, V. & Pandey, R.P. (2002) Physalis maxima Miller - A new record from
India. Indian Journal of Forestry. 25(12), 187190.
Sudhakaran, S. & Ganapathi, A. (1993) Structure and distribution of plant
trichomes in relation to taxonomy: Indian Physalis L. Feddes Repertorium.
104(78), 469474.
Sudhakaran, S. & Ganapathi, A. (1999) Biosystematics of South Indian
Physalis. In: Nee, M., Symon, D.E., Lester, R.N. & Jessop, J.P. (eds.)
Solanaceae IV: Advances in Biology and Utilization. Kew, Royal Botanic
Gardens, pp. 335340.
Sullivan, J. R. (2004) The genus Physalis (Solanaceae) in the South eastern
United states. Rhodora. 106(928), 305326.
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Physalis grisea from India
Waterfall, U.T. (1958) A taxonomic study of the genus Physalis in North
America North of Mexico (concluded). Rhodora. 60(714), 152173.
Whitson, M. & Manos, P.S. (2005) Untangling Physalis (Solanaceae) from
the Physaloids: a two-gene phylogeny of the Physalinae. Systematic Botany.
30, 216230.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Keys and descriptions are presented for the 16 species of Physalis (Solanaceae) commonly found growing without cultivation in the southeastern United States, as well as for two cultivated species that sometimes escape and persist in disturbed habitats. The study was initiated as part of the Southeast Flora Project, and will ultimately be incorporated into the treatment of the genus for the Flora of North America.
Full-text available
The present paper puts on recorded Physalis pruinosa L. as new to the flora of Tamil Nadu state.
Full-text available
The status of the names, Physalis minima L. and P. maxima Mill. (Solanaceae), and their alleged presence on the Indian subcontinent are discussed. The issues of nativity and identity of Linnaean Physalis minima are long-debated while the use of the name P. maxima Mill, and its report from India are recent. The available evidence indicates that the name "P. minima L." is misapplied to two different elements, viz., P. angulata L. and P. lagascae Roem. & Schult. The name Physalis minima L. may be rejected as nomen confusum, for which the paper provides the primary information. As on today, it is submerged under the synonymy of P. angulata L. The correct name for the widely known P. minima is P. lagascae. The name "P. maxima Mill." applied to the escape and naturalized weed in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere is to be substituted by P. pruinosa L., a name misapplied to P. grisea (Waterf.) M. Martínez.
Proper identification of drugs and their use in proper doses are important for successful treatment. Physalis minima Linn commonly known as country gooseberry has anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic, analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory potentials. The present paper is aimed to ascertain the proper identity of Ṭaṅkārī (Physalis minima Linn.) in Ayurvedic classics by a meticulous search and hence a review of the drug Ṭaṅkārī (Physalis minima Linn) was carried out in the texts of Ayurveda, modern literature, journals and online publications. The result of the search showed that the name “Ṭaṅkārī” is not found in Vedic lore. In Saṃhitās, it is mentioned in Bhāvaprakāśa. Reference of the drug “Śārṅgeṣṭhā” is found in Bṛhattrayī, Bhela, Kāśyapa, Cakradatta and Vaṅgasena. It is variously named as Cirapoṭikā, Kākatikta, and Vāyasī by ḍalhaṇa and he describes it as gaura (pale), vartula (round), and as having avaguṇṭhita/veṣṭhita (covered) fruit which matches the description of Ṭaṅkārī (P. minima Linn). A search for terms Kākatikta and Vāyasī showed Kākatikta to be synonymous to Śārṅgeṣṭhā and Vāyasī to be synonymous to both Kākatikta and Kākamācī (Solanum nigrum). Madanapāla and Śāligrāma Nighaṇṭus have mentioned the name Cirapoṭikā to be synonymous with Ṭaṅkārī. Śodhala has used the term Parpoṭī as a synonym of Ṭaṅkārī, which is the Gujarati name of P. minima Linn. Recent authors have considered Śārṅgeṣṭhā as either P. minima or Cardiospermum helicabum. The regional names of P. minima are Cirpoṭi (Hindi), Cirboli (Marathi), also the folklore uses and pharmacological activities of P. minima are in accordance with the indications of Śārṅgeṣṭhā in classics. Thus with a complete review of both Ayurveda and modern literatures, it can be concluded that the drug mentioned as Ṭaṅkārī in Bhāvaprakāśa is the same as Śārṅgeṣṭhā mentioned in the classics. Cirapoṭikā and Kākatikta are its synonyms. Cardiospermum helicabum is Karṇaspoṭha, and hence Śārṅgeṣṭhā of classics is P. minima which is supported by the regional names, pharmacological activity and folklore claims.
Physalis pruinosa L. displaces P. maxima Mill. for a Mexican and Central American species. P. grisea (Waterf.) M. Martínez, comb. et stat. nov., is the correct name for a North American plant that had been misnamed P. pruinosa.
Physalis (75+ species, Solanaceae) is most diverse in Mexico, with only the type, P. alkekengi, native to the Old World. Interspecific relationships are poorly known, and despite the distinctive inflated fruiting calyces, generic limits remain uncertain. Sequence data from part of the nuclear gene waxy (622 bp) and the internal transcribed spacer of the nrDNA (652 bp) were used to generate a phylogeny of subtribe Physalinae. Thirty-five species of Physalis and eight physaloid genera were sequenced. Data analysis included Bayesian and maximum parsimony methods. The Physalinae was monophyletic, but while the morphologically typical Physalis species formed a strongly supported clade, the morphologically atypical species made the genus paraphyletic. A grade of physaloid genera (Quincula, Oryctes, and Chamaesaracha) and Physalis subgenus Physalodendron separate P. alkekengi, P. carpenteri, and P. microphysa from other Physalis species. The Physalis clade consists of Margaranthus and species with solitary yellow flowers and highly inflated calyces. Most sections of Physalis do not appear to be monophyletic. Leucophysalis viscosa and the Central American physaloid genera Brachistus, Tzeltalia, and Witheringia formed a clade at the base of the Physalinae.
The structure and organographic distribution of trichomes in six Physalis L. (Solanaceae) taxa available in the Indian natural populations have been studied. In all, seven trichome types are recognised. Structurally they are distinguishable into two hair classes one comprising sequence from unbranched hairs to branched, dendritic hairs with or without glandular tips. While the other class consists of short hairs each tipped with a unicellular or multicellular head. Of the seven types recognised the unbranched eglandular trichomes present in all the six taxa. Branched trichomes are absent in P. minima and P. angulata. Whereas branched hairs are available with all the other taxa studied. P. peruviana can easily be identified by its dentritic trichomes present in its corolla thorat. The white flowered form is the only form having branched glandular hairs. The glabrescent form is having glabrescent texture and the storied gland with unicellular head. There is no storied glandular trichomes in the case of P. pubescens which is having long silvery hairs around the stem. The distribution of trichomes in general is taxonomically significant. Accordingly a key based on the trichome types for identification of the species is presented.