Physalis peruviana, commonly known as physalis, is indigenous to South America, but was cultivated in South Africa in the region of the Cape of Good Hope during the 1800s, imparting its common name, cape gooseberry.
As a member of the plant family, Solanaceae, it is related to a large number of edible plants, including tomato, eggplant and potato, and other members of the nightshades. It is closely related to the tomatillo but not to the cherry, Ribes gooseberry, Indian gooseberry or Chinese gooseberry, as its various names might suggest.
The fruit is a small round berry about the size of a marble with numerous small yellow seeds. It is bright yellow and sweet when ripe, making it ideal for snacks, pies or jams. It is popular in fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado.
Its most notable feature is the single papery pod or "cape" that covers each berry. Because of the fruit's decorative appearance, it is sometimes used in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts. If the fruit is left inside the husks, its shelf life at room temperature is over 30-45 days.