Friday, April 8, 2011

Cossack Pineapple

Last summer we grew a few Cossack pineapple (Physalis pubescens) plants and we enjoyed the novel, pineapple flavoured fruits and the fact that they dry beautifully, like tangy raisins. And it is a thoroughly gorgeous little plant. I love the way they look like little shuttlecocks with their calyx peeled back to reveal the fruit.

It's a member of the Solonaceae family, related to tomatoes, potatoes, nightshade...and more closely related to tomatillos and Cape gooseberries. But unlike my experience of Cape Gooseberries, this one tastes great, and keeps well in its little papery packages. It is a frost tender annual, I grow them in the same way I grow tomatoes, without the need for stakes. Apparently native to North America, but cultivated commercially in North Eastern Europe (all this information comes from Google, totally's hard to find much anywhere else! Please share if you know any more.) Sadly two of the plants I put in blew away so I don't have any spare fruit for you to try, but I'll be growing a lot more plants this Spring, so you might want to think about finding a little corner where you can grow your own next Summer....

Cossack Pineapple plant
Gorgeous little flower and unripe fruit

A bit of the plot full of winter greens.

Chilean guava is another favourite in our house. Our plant is nestled under a lemon verbena, and right now, on these warm Autumn days the scent from both plants make this an intoxicating corner of the garden. The plants grow from 1-2m but are wonderful clipped as a hedge. They are hardy and forgiving plants, and have masses of fruit when most other berries are finished, and no thorns, which makes it a great plant for the garden fairies. I have 3 lovely big plants ready for this week, and little ones ready in Spring.

Potted saffron
Chilean guava

We'll be at Tas Farm Gate market, corner of Melville and Elizabeth Streets this Sunday with these and many other lovely plants, along with some tomatoes, herbs and other garden goodies. Maybe even a bag or two of tomatillos if the house chef doesn't make off with them first....Hope to see you there!


  1. I think the ground cherry/ cossack pineapple is one of the most underated fruits out there - easy to grow and high yielding. It often self seeds here. Makes a great crumble

  2. Something to try Rhizowen! Our next experiment in merriment is to steep some in some vodka. We do this with medlars for a year and get an awesome liquer, then use the fruit for desserts/fruit pastes. Cossack Pineapple would make a cool climate pina colada.....On a more sensible note, they are also popular with our little ones when they're dried.

  3. Ah, Chilean (cherry) guava! My first share house in Brisbane had one in the garden. It was the first thing I ever tried preserving, racing the fruit flies to make the most of the harvest.

    Memories... =o)