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

T: "Habitat in Indiae aridis sordidis."; Lectotype : Herb. Clifford: 62, Physalis 6 (BM) fide Edmonds in Jarvis (ed.), Order out of Chaos: 741 (2007). The original lectotypification of this name by Heine in Flore de la Nouvelle-CalÚdonie 7: 131 (1976) with Hermann material has been shown to be incorrect and the present interpretation is that P. minima is a synonym of P. angulata. See The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project pages on the Natural History Museum site.

 P. parviflora R. Br., Prodr. 447 (1810).

T: north coast of Australia, R. Brown; ?BM, n.v.

Physalis micrantha auct.non Link.: Symon, Australian Systematic Botany 10: 681-2 (1997).   

This species was first described for Northern Territory specimens as P. micrantha by Symon (1997) but this is now considered to be a later name for P. minima (see A. Bean in ASBS Newsletter 127 , June 2006), earlier considered to be the widespread species now referred to as P. angulata. The lectotypification of this name above may have some further influence on the name(s) applied to Australian material.


Prostrate or low growing annual, pubescent with appressed white antrose hairs, especially on young growth and on leaf veins. Leaves alternate, 1 or 2 per node (but not opposite); lamina ovate or broadly ovate, rounded at base, up to 3 cm long and 2 cm wide, entire or sinuate; petiole 1–1.5 cm long, slender.

Pedicel  4-10 mm long, finely pubescent with antrorse arcuate hairs. Calyx 3-6 mm long; lobes triangular. Corolla 4-5 mm long, pale yellow, basal spots not visible on dried flowers. Filaments 1.5 mm long, pubescent in the lower part. Anthers 1 mm long. Style 2 mm.

Fruiting calyx obscurely 5-angled in section, 12-19 mm long, colour unknown. Berry globular, 7-10 mm diameter. Seeds flattened, 1.5–2 mm diam., orbicular to subreniform, shallowly punctate, pale yellow.

Distribution and ecology

First recorded from NT in 1997 and now also a collection from Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait (Waterhouse 6906).  [rmb Feb 2006].

Probably native to the New World but not yet confidently identified with their species. Now scattered through the Old World tropics.


Maybe separated from P. angulata with which it may occur by its prostrate habit, smaller leaves, flowers and fruits and arcuate pubescent pedicel.

First recorded from NT in 1997 (Symon 1997). There is now also a collection from Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait (Waterhouse 6906).  [rmb Feb 2006].

Reference: Symon, D.E. (1997). Physalis micrantha (Solanaceae) recorded from the Northern Territory. Australian Systematic Botany 10: 681–682.

Tony Bean in notes on Physalis in Australia in the Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 127 (2006) treated this taxon as P.minima following suggested changes in the typification of this species; information given here has been upgraded to reflect this.

Selected specimens

N.T.: Bing Bong Port area, D. E. Murfet 2447 (AD, DNA).


Derivation of epithet

From minimus, Latin for smallest.

Images and information on web

A comprehensive fact sheet on P. minima (as P. angulata) in Africa, with images, can be found on the PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) site

Images of what is purported to be this species can be seen at - here it is referred to as Sunberry or Wild Cape gooseberry


Information about the possible toxic properties of Physalis species can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database but take care as there is confusion surrounding the application of names.


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.