Tomatillo Physalis ixocarpa

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Physalis ixocarpa, commonly known as the tomatillo, is a plant that bears small, round fruits with a green to purple color depending on its ripeness. These distinctive fruits are encased in an inedible, papery husk that resembles a lantern in shape. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk, which can start to split when it reaches full size. The plant itself has a sturdy, bush-like structure with spreading branches. Its leaves are broad, heart-shaped, and somewhat pointed at the tips, with a bright green color and a slightly velvety texture. The flowers of the tomatillo are small and yellow, with a bell shape and sometimes have spots or streaks of purple. Following the flowers, the fruit develops within the husk, starting from a pale green and gradually darkening to a deeper green, and eventually to a purple hue if left on the plant long enough. When removed from the husk, the fruit's surface is typically sticky to the touch. Tomatillos have a tart flavor and are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, especially for making salsas and sauces.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Mexican Husk Tomato, Tomatillo, Jamberry, Husk Cherry, Ground Cherry, Large-Flowered Toma Verde, Mexican Ground Cherry, Mexican Groundcherry.

    • Common names

      Physalis angulata var. ixocarpa, Physalis ixocarpa var. immaculata, Physalis ixocarpa subsp. immaculata

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The most common common name for Physalis ixocarpa is tomatillo. Tomatillos are not toxic to humans when ripe and are commonly used in culinary applications, such as in Mexican cuisine. However, the plant's unripe fruit, leaves, and stems contain solanine, which can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. Solanine poisoning from tomatillos is rare, but symptoms may include gastrointestinal upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, and in severe cases, neurological disorders.

    • To pets

      For pets, the tomatillo plant can be toxic. Similar to its effect on humans, the unripe fruit, leaves, and stems contain solanine, which can cause solanine poisoning if ingested by pets in significant amounts. Symptoms in pets might include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, confusion, and in severe cases, seizures or respiratory problems. It is advisable to keep pets away from the tomatillo plant, particularly the unripe fruit and the foliage.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (60-120 cm)

    • Spread

      3 feet (90 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Culinary Uses: The fruit of Physalis ixocarpa, known as tomatillo, is widely used in Mexican cuisine for preparing salsas, sauces, and various traditional dishes.
    • Nutritional Content: Tomatillos are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, contributing to a balanced diet.
    • Gardening and Landscaping: Tomatillos can be grown ornamentally; their bright yellow flowers and distinctive paper-like husks add aesthetic value to gardens.
    • Pollinator Attraction: Tomatillo plants attract bees and other pollinators, supporting the health of the local ecosystem.
    • Companion Planting: When grown alongside other crops, tomatillo plants can help ward off certain pests and improve overall garden health.
    • Soil Health: Like many members of the nightshade family, tomatillos can contribute to soil health when used in crop rotation, reducing the risk of soil-borne diseases.
    • Cultural Significance: The tomatillo holds cultural importance in various regions, particularly in Mexico, where it is a staple ingredient and part of traditional agricultural practices.
    • Self-seeding: Under favorable conditions, tomatillo plants can self-seed, making them easy to grow again in the next season with minimal effort.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Physalis ixocarpa has been traditionally used to reduce inflammation in certain conditions.
    • Diuretic: The plant may promote the increased passing of urine, helping in the removal of excess fluids from the body.
    • Antioxidant: Contains compounds that may have antioxidant effects, helping in protecting against oxidative stress.
    • Hepatoprotective: Some studies suggest the plant might have liver-protecting properties.
    • Immunomodulatory: It may influence the immune system, although the mechanisms and applications require further research.
    • Antimicrobial: Components in the plant might exhibit antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens.
    • Hyperglycemic: May be used in traditional medicines for the management of blood sugar levels.
    Please note that scientific evidence may be limited, and it is important to consult healthcare professionals for any health-related uses.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) husks can be used as a natural dye, producing colors ranging from pale yellow to a rich caramel depending on the mordant used.
    • The sticky substance from the husk is sometimes used in a folk method for removing hair lice by applying it directly to the affected area of the scalp.
    • In some artisan crafts, dried tomatillo husks are used to create eco-friendly packaging for small items like jewelry and gifts.
    • Tomatillo plants are occasionally grown as ornamental elements in gardens due to their distinctive lantern-like husks and bright yellow flowers.
    • The pulp from the tomatillo fruit, when fermented, can be used as a bait for certain types of fish, making it handy for fishing in rural areas.
    • Dried and crushed tomatillo leaves have been traditionally used to repel insects in grain storage by placing them amongst the stored grains.
    • Tomatillo husks serve as a raw material for making paper and paper products in small-scale and sustainable production settings.
    • In some cultures, the plant's fibrous stems are used for making rudimentary tools or as a binding material in construction projects.
    • The vibrant green of the unripe tomatillo fruit is sometimes used as a natural color guide for artists and designers in rural areas where the plant is common.
    • Tomatillo plants are used in crop rotation in some traditional farming practices to help improve soil health and pest management.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The tomatillo is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The tomatillo is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: The papery husk that surrounds the Physalis ixocarpa, also known as tomatillo, resembles a protective covering, symbolizing safety and shelter.
    • Mystery: The hidden nature of the tomatillo's fruit inside its husk can represent things that are not immediately apparent, encouraging curiosity and discovery.
    • Rarity: Tomatillos are less common in some traditional cuisines, which can symbolize uniqueness or the value of rare finds in life.
    • Enlightenment: As the husk of the tomatillo dries and becomes transparent, revealing the fruit within, it can symbolize the transition from ignorance to knowledge.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The common name for Physalis ixocarpa is tomatillo. When watering tomatillos, it's important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once a week, providing between 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per plant, depending on the size and the weather conditions. During hot, dry periods, you may need to water more frequently. Always water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Reduce watering once the fruit begins to fill out and mature.

  • sunLight

    Tomatillos, or Physalis ixocarpa, thrive best in full sunlight conditions. They need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day to produce a good crop. Place them in a location where they can receive unfiltered sunshine throughout the day, such as a south-facing garden bed or plot for optimal growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Tomatillos, the common name for Physalis ixocarpa, prefer warm temperatures and grow best when daytime temperatures are between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate minimum temperatures down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night but should not be exposed to frost conditions. The ideal temperature range is crucial for flowering and fruit setting.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning tomatillos is helpful to encourage air circulation and prevent disease. Remove any dead or diseased branches as they appear. Light pruning can also be done to shape the plant and remove suckers that appear at the base. Pruning is often not necessary but can be done every few weeks during the growing season, with the best time being in the late afternoon after the heat of the day has passed.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    For tomatillos, a well-drained soil rich in organic matter is best. A soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is ideal. Mix in compost or aged manure and ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

  • plantRepotting

    Tomatillos don't typically require frequent repotting. They should be transplanted outdoors after the last frost if started indoors. Otherwise, they are generally not repotted.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Tomatillos prefer moderate humidity levels but are quite adaptable. Consistent humidity typical of outdoor conditions is suitable; avoid overly dry or wet air.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure full sun, warm temps, and a well-draining pot for indoor tomatillos.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun after frost, in fertile, well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      8-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Physalis ixocarpa, commonly known as tomatillo, begins its life cycle when the seeds germinate in warm, moist soil, typically in the spring. From the germinated seeds, seedlings emerge, developing true leaves and a root system. As the plant matures, it forms a bushy structure with stout stems and heart-shaped, hairy leaves. The tomatillo then enters a flowering stage, producing small yellow flowers which, upon successful pollination often by insects, give way to the formation of green fruit enclosed in a papery husk. These fruits grow and ripen, turning from green to a yellowish color when mature, at which point they are harvested. After fruiting, if the plant isn't an annual and conditions allow it to survive, it may enter a period of dormancy during colder months, only to regrow the following season, or it may complete its life cycle and die after seed production.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The most popular method of propagation for Physalis ixocarpa, commonly known as tomatillo, is through seeds. Seed propagation is typically done in the spring after the last frost when soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently—ideally between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius). To propagate tomatillos from seed, a grower should start by planting the seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. Seeds should be sown at a shallow depth of about 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters) in a well-draining seed starting mix. The soil should be kept moist but not saturated to encourage germination, which generally occurs within 7 to 14 days. Once seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves and outdoor conditions are suitable, they can be transplanted to the garden, being spaced about 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) apart to accommodate their bushy growth habit.