Photo: G.Leiper G.Leiper

Photo: G.Leiper G.Leiper

Darwin, NT. Photo: W.R. Barker W.R. Barker

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).


Physalis angulata L., Sp. Pl. 1: 183 (1753)

T: "Habitat in India utraque." Lectotype : Herb. Linn. No. 247.9 (LINN) fide D'Arcy in Woodson & Schery (ed.), Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 60 : 662 (1974). See The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project pages on the Natural History Museum site.

See also 2 specimens in the Swedish Museum of Natural History Linnean Herbarium (S-LINN) at

[P.indica auct. non Lam.; R.H. Anderson, Contrib. New South Wales Nat. Herb. 1:29 (1939)]

P. minima auct.non L.: Purdie et al., Fl. Austral. 29: 181 (1982).

See discussion by Bean in ASBS Newsletter 127: 6-7 (2006) on the name of this species.


Bushy annual to 50 cm, glabrous or with minute simple hairs.

Leaves alternate, 1 or sometimes 2 per node (but not opposite); lamina ovate-lanceolate, rounded to cuneate at base, usually 4–6 cm long, 2–3 cm wide, sometimes larger, entire or shallowly toothed or lobed; petiole to 6 cm long.

Pedicels usually 20–25 mm long, occasionally shorter. Calyx 3–5 mm long; lobes triangular-acute, 1–2 mm long. Corolla 5–angled, 5–8 mm long, pale creamy-yellow, usually with large brownish spots towards base. Anthers 2–2.5 mm long. Style 4–5 mm long.

Fruiting calyx 10–angled with 5 minor and 5 major veins, 23–30 mm long, pale green (pale brown when dry). Berry globular, 8–14 mm diam. Seeds disc-shaped to broadly reniform, 1–1.5(2) mm long, pale yellow. 

Distribution and ecology

Generally considered native to Australia although widespread in tropical America, Asia and Africa.

Possibly a pre–1788 introduction into Australia from the earliest European-Pacific-Central American contact. A widespread weed of disturbed areas in W.A., N.T., Qld and north-eastern N.S.W. Frequently found near rivers.

Common name

Wild Gooseberry, Mullaca


May be confused with P. ixocarpa Brot. ex Hornem, but distinguished by the longer pedicels, creamy-yellow corolla and angular fruiting calyx.


Berries used as food by Aborigines in N.T. and northern Qld.


Confusion surrounds the use of this name. Bean's 2006 treatment in a key in the Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 127 considered that this was the most widely encountered species inAustralia; Symon treated this same species as P. minima.


Bean further recognized two forms within P. angulata

  • the glabrous typical form with leaves with several lobes from NSW and Qld
  • an antrorsely hairy form with unlobed or singly lobed leaves from northern NT and WA



Selected specimens

W.A.: Brook Creek, C.A. Gardner 7186 (PERTH). N.T.: Victoria River, J. Must 1579 (CANB, DNA). Qld: near Wernadinga Stn, D.E. Symon 5015 (BRI, AD). N.S.W.: near Booragul, R. Coveny 6484 & J. Powell (AD, BRI, NSW).

Derivation of epithet

From angulata, angular, presumably a reference to the angled nature of the calyx in cross section.

Images and information on web

Images of P. angulata can be seen on the Western Australian Herbarium Florabase site at


Images of P. angulata as a cultivated plant can be seen at and its traditional uses in the Amazonian rainforest are summarised at

Further information and links for P. angulata can be seen at the Plants for A Future site at

Information about the toxic properties of Physalis species can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database


Note: with the confusion surrounding the application of names in Physalis, information given on the web which is species specific should be viewed with some caution.