Copyright free image by Forest & Kim Starr from Plants of Hawaii site.

Photo: L. Haegi © L. Haegi

Line drawing by B. Osborn (Flora of Australia , vol. 29).

From Britton & Brown (1898) An Illustrated Flora of the Northern States, Canada and the British Possessions (Charles Scribner's Sons).

Line drawing by G. Dashorst, Fl. S.Australia 3,  f. 567 partly (1986).


*Nicandra physalodes (L.) Gaertner, De Fruct. Sem. Pl. 2: 237 (1791)

 Atropa physalodes L., Sp. Pl. 1: 181 (1753).

 T: `Habitat in Peru. D.B.Jussieu'; lecto: Herb. Linn. n. 246.3 (LINN) fide E. SchÓnbeck-Temesy, Fl. Iranica 100: 2 (1972).

See the Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project pages for further details.


Annual herb to c. 2 m.

Leaves variable; lamina narrowly to broadly ovate, 2–30 cm long; petiole to 9 cm long.

Pedicels 6–24 mm long. Calyx 7–22 mm long; margins of the lobes appressed to form longitudinal wings. Corolla-lobes 12–30 mm long, obtuse or slightly notched. Staminal filaments 3–3.5 mm long, densely pubescent at base.  

Berry globular, 11–22 mm diam. occasionally smaller, pale yellow; fruiting calyx papery with prominent, reticulate veins. Seeds 1.2–2.1 mm long, brown. 

Distribution and ecology

Native to Peru, introduced in Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas., S.A. and W.A., mainly as a summer weed in coastal and near-coastal areas.

 An important weed of maize crops in northern Qld.

Common name

Apple of Peru

Selected specimens

W.A.: Busselton, Feb. 1969, S. Wilkes (PERTH). S.A.: Bethel, 6 Apr. 1970, B. Frost (AD). Qld: Brisbane, 3 June 1926, C.T. White (BRI). N.S.W.: near Penrith, L. Haegi 1606 (NSW). Vic.: Neerim, 29 Feb. 1912, H.S. Wheeler (MEL).


Derivation of epithet

From physalodes - a reference to the fruits of this species with their inflated bladder-like calyces as in Physalis species. 

Images and information on web

An excellent series of images of the leaves, fruits and flower can be seen on the Weeds of Mexico site and on the Plants of Hawaii site at

S. physalodes as a weed in the Pacific is treated on the Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) site.

A number of different life stage images can be seen on the Digital Flora of Texas  and the CalPhotos  sites with flowers and fruits on the Flora of Zimbabwe site.

Further information about the toxic properties of this plant can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database

In searching for information on the web be aware that the species epithet is sometimes written as "physaloides"