Common Name
Ground cherry, Chinese lantern
Botanic Name
Physalis L.
Plant Family
Dry soils of plains, roadsides, and waste ground.
Animals Affected
Cattle, horses
Toxic Principle
Solanine, a tropane alkaloid with toxic properties similar to atropine. All species of Physalis are potentially poisonous until proven otherwise.
Erect, 5-10 dm high, branching herbaceous, hairy plant. Leaves are alternate, ovate and broadly toothed. The 5 lobed, bell-shaped, dropping flowers are pale yellow with a dark center and are produced at the leaf axils. The characteristic fruit is covered by an enlarged pod-like calyx which turns papery brown when the enclosed berry is mature. There are many different species of Physalis, some of which have been hybridized to produce colorful bracts surrounding the fruits that have resulted in the plant being given the name "Chinese Lantern".
Colic, bloat, diarrhea
Supportive therapy including intravenous fluids and electrolytes, intestinal protectants. Physostigmine may be tried cautiously to reverse some of the atropine-like effects.
Cardiovascular system
Slow heart rate, decreased cardiac output, shock, coma, and death
Nervous System
Depression, disorientation
Ocular System
Dilated pupils
Atropine-like toxic signs and finding evidence that the animal has eaten the plants in the pasture or hay.
Special Notes
This is rarely a problem toxic plant, although some species of Physalis can become quite invasive in some pastures or waste areas and pose a risk to animals.
Ground cherry (Physalis lobata.)