WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

This prostrate plant tops out at 4–6-inches high but can spread by rhizomes to form a mat-like cover. The showy, purple flowers produce an inflated fruit sack that resembles a Chinese lantern, another common name for the plant.


FLOWER: April–September. Purple, 1/2–1-inch wide (12–25 mm), solitary flowers have 5 united, crinkly petals that form flat to slightly cupped flowers with distinct veins and often radiating darker bands. The 5 stamens have bright yellow anthers. The fruit, or groundcherry, is a 1/4-inch (6 mm) round, greenish-yellow, berry enclosed in a papery envelope. The fruit is edible, but resembles several poisonous Solanum species.


LEAVES: Alternate leaves, 1 1/2–4-inches long (3.8–10 cm), 1/4–1-inch wide (6–25 mm), oval to lance-shaped with lobed to entire margins. Leaves and stems are covered with distinctive scattered, rough, crystal-like scales.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils, roadsides, disturbed areas; prairies, desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 3,300–6,400 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CO, NE, NM, OK, UT, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Silverleaf Nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, statewide has star-shaped purple flowers, stems with prickles, and exposed (not encased) berry-like fruit that is poisonous.


NM COUNTIES: Low-elevation grassland habitats throughout the eastern half of NM and scattered elsewhere: Catron, Chaves, Colfax, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Harding, Hidalgo, Guadalupe, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Mora, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Socorro, Torrance, Union.

PURPLE  GROUNDCHERRY

QUINCULA  LOBATA  (PHYSALIS  LOBATA)

Nightshade Famiy, Solanaceae

Perennial herb

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Leaves and stems are covered with distinctive scattered, rough, crystal-like scales (arrow).

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