Tomatillo Vs. Ground Cherry

Tomatillo is a small, spherical, green, or green-purple fruit covered by a husk. It belongs to the nightshade family. Tomatillo is also known as Mexican tomato. Ground cherry, also known as cape gooseberry or husk cherry, is a much smaller green fruit covered with a papery husk. It also belongs to the nightshade family.

Tomatillo and ground cherries differ in size, taste, use, and color. Their main similarities are that they belong to the nightshade family, are covered by a papery husk, and are green before ripening. Below, we compare and contrast tomatillo and ground cherry.

Tomatillo Vs. Ground Cherry: Overview

They Belong To The Nightshade Family

A nightshade family is a group of plants that prefer to grow at night and in shades, as the name suggests. There are more than 2,000 plant species in this family. They include; tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. 

They Are Covered With Papery Husks

Tomatillo and ground cherries are covered by papery husks that turn yellowish when the fruit ripens. The husk protects the fruit as it grows. 

They Are Green Before Ripening

Both tomatillo and ground cherry are green before ripening. Tomatillo may sometimes turn green-purple. 

Differences Between Tomatillo And Ground Cherry


Tomatillo is large, growing to 5cm in diameter, and its plant can grow up to 1.5M(60 inches). Ground cherries are smaller than tomatillos with an average size of 2cm. The plant averages at 0.9M(30 inches). 


Tomatillo remains green after ripening, with some varieties turning yellow or purple. Ripe ground cherries are yellow or pale orange. The husks dry and fall off when the fruits ripen.


Unripe ground berries are tart. When they ripen they taste sweet with a tropical fruit dash. The taste is anything between pineapple, kiwi, and grape. They are often not edible while unripe. Ripe tomatillo has a sweet, tart, and earthy flavor. Roasted tomatillo tends to get sweeter, while boiled ones retain their tart taste. 


Tomatillo plant has oval to diamond-shaped leaves with somewhat toothed margins with little or no hairs. The ground cherry leaves are heart-shaped and hairy.


Tomatillos are versatile and can be used in several ways. You can eat them raw, top-up salads, make curries and stews, make soups, and juice them. You could also make a tomatillo smoothie. When roasted, it could be served as a side dish. Tomatillo is acidic and tart and is therefore not so pleasant when eaten raw. Cooking cuts down the acidity in tomatillos. Ground cherries are best eaten raw.

They have a sweet, fruity taste that is pleasing to taste buds. You can use ground cherries for your salad, for your favorite cake, and as an appetizer. Ground cherries are less acidic but have a tart taste when unripe.

Nutrition Facts


One tomatillo of 34 grams contains; 11 calories, carbohydrates-1.99 gm, fiber- 0.65gm, sugars-1.34gm, fat-0.347gm, and protein-0.33gm. Tomatillo does not contain cholesterol, Vitamin B12, or Vitamin D. It contains calcium, sodium, copper, iron, and phosphorus, among other nutrients. 

Ground Cherry

One cup of ground cherry(140gm) contains; 74 calories, 16gm carbohydrates, 3gm proteins, and 1 gm of fat. They also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin A, B, and C. Ground cherries have no cholesterol.

Health Benefits

Ground Cherry

Ground cherries have several health benefits. They contain phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties. They boost body immunity and hence help in fighting diseases and infections. They contain antioxidants that fight free radical cells that help fight cancers such as breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Ground cherries contain Vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron in the body. These cherries may help to maintain proper heart health and bone density, among many other health benefits.


Just like the ground cherries, tomatillo has a myriad of health benefits. Tomatillo contains properties that are a good source of antioxidants, anti tumors, and helps fight degenerative diseases. Tomatillos may help improve vision due to the high level of beta carotene. The antitumors and antioxidants may help to suppress the spread of malignant cells, while anti-inflammatory properties help control conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. They might help in lowering blood sugars and improving heart health. The fibers in tomatillo may aid in digestion. 

Storing Tomatillo And Ground Cherry

If the tomatillo and ground cherry is unripe, they can be stored at room temperature with the husks. Put them in a bag, and put them in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. For ripe fruits, wash and dry them well. Put them in an airtight plastic bag, and refrigerate or freeze. Avoid freezing or refrigerating unripe fruits. You may opt to make puree or just blend ripe fruits and freeze them. You can also dry and store them. 


Possible Side Effects

Consuming a considerable amount of tomatillo and ground cherries is considered safe. However, cases of allergic reactions have been reported. If you are allergic to other foods in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, avoid eating tomatillo and ground cherry. Signs of allergy include; itching, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, and hives. 

A Summary Of The Differences Between Tomatillo And Ground Cherry


Description Tomatillo Ground cherry 
Size Large- upto 5 cm Small- upto 2 cm
Color Green with Yellow or purple varieties Yellow or orange
Uses Making sauces Eaten raw and in salads
Leaves Oval-shaped with little or no hairs Heart-shaped and hairy
Plant size Tall Short
Taste Tart-like and acidic Sweeter and less acidic


In conclusion, tomatillo and ground cherries belong to the nightshade family that differs in color, size, taste, and flavors. However, they are similar in that they are green before ripening, have papery husks, and have several health benefits.

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