Goldenberry

Goldenberry – an acidic, bright orange fruit from South America – has a unique nutritional and medicinal profile.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Gooseberry, aguaymanto, cape gooseberry, Inca berry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian ground cherry
  • Scientific namePhysalis peruviana
  • Geographic distributionSouth America
  • Plant typeShrub
  • Native regionAndean Region
  • Main producer(s)Peru
  • Main Economic UseFood industry
Goldenberry

Goldenberry, a fruit originating in the tropical highlands of South America, is gaining popularity in the culinary world for its rich vitamin content. Goldenberry was first domesticated in its native regions - the tropical highlands of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia – during pre-Incan times. Although the goldenberry is now grown in different places throughout the world, its natural habitat is still considered subtropical mountain regions.

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAnti-inflammatory, Hypoglycemic
  • Key constituentsTannins, carotenoids
  • Ways to useFood, Juiced, Powder, Dried
  • Medicinal rating(2) Minorly useful plant
  • Safety rankingSafe
Goldenberry Benefits

Health Benefits of Goldenberry

Goldenberry has been traditionally used to treat a variety of health conditions; however, both popular consumption and scientific research suggest that the herb is mainly useful for:

  • Relieving inflammation. Goldenberry contains compounds that help soothe skin irritations, such as dermatitis, and also alleviate the painful symptoms of arthritis.

  • Managing diabetes. Preliminary research shows that goldenberry may be able to help regulate blood glucose levels.

  • Supporting liver and kidney health. Goldenberry exerts a protective action in these vital organs, helping with the prevention and treatment of hepatic and renal fibrosis.

Goldenberry may also be of use in the treatment of stress and insomnia due to its relaxant action, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and induce sleep.

Goldenberry has been traditionally used for killing intestinal parasites.

How It Works

Goldenberry contains important supporting compounds, such as  tannins, polyphenols, and carotenoids.

Goldenberry's polyphenols possess antioxidant properties that are believed to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to lower glucose levels. However, further research is necessary to fully explain its mechanisms of action.

Moreover, further studies are needed to identify the exact workings behind the protective effects of goldenberry in the hepatorenal function, but it is thought that the presence of alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids, contributes to reduce the biomarkers related to liver and kidney diseases.

The antiparasitic activity of goldenberry and its widespread indigenous use for eliminating intestinal worms is credited to the plant's tannins.

Goldenberry also contains melatonin, which promotes restful sleep.

Herbs well-known for their anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving activity are turmeric and cat's claw, whereas yacon provides similar hypoglycemic properties.

Nutritionally, goldenberries possess high amounts of nutrients, minerals (like iron and calcium), and protein. The herb is particularly rich in vitamins A (retinol) and B complex; however, contrary to popular belief, the amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) contained in 100 grams of goldenberries (21 mg) -while it represents about 24% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)- is not that impressive compared to oranges (53 mg), kiwis (92 mg), and camu camu (2,400 mg).

Goldenberry Cautions

Although goldenberry is considered safe in dietary amounts, its toxicity has not been extensively studied and consuming more than 200 grams per day may lead to liver and kidney damage.

How to Consume Goldenberry

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFruit
  • Edible usesFlavoring
  • TasteTangy, Tart

Nowadays, goldenberry is primarily consumed as a food product, enjoyed for its taste and nutritional value, as its medicinal uses are typically limited to indigenous peoples.

Natural Forms

  • Raw. Especially in its native regions, goldenberry is consumed raw, whether alone or in a fruit salad. The berry's tart, acidic taste is not agreeable to all, but many enjoy it in small amounts.

  • Juice. All the nutritional and medicinal benefits of goldeberry can be obtained from juicing its fresh berries, alone or mixed with other fruits.

  • Dried. Outside of South America, goldenberry is often consumed dried because it is easier to transport and store while still making a good snack.

  • Powder. Goldenberry powder provides all the nutritional and medicinal benefits of these Andean berries. It can be diluted in shakes and juices.

Goldenberry has become an important ingredient in gourmet desserts in Peru and other parts of South America. It be found candied and in products such as energy bars, beverages, and jams.

Buying

Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets, Specialized health stores, Online herb stores

Natural Forms

Fresh, raw goldenberries are not yet widely available in North America, though their popularity is growing.

Both fresh and dried berries can be purchased in organic markets and health food stores, while pure goldenberry powder is readily available through online retailers.

Growing

Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsFruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilLoamy sand
  • Soil pH5.6 – 6.0 (Moderately acidic), 6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral), 7.4 – 7.8 (Slightly alkaline)
  • Growing habitatSubtropical regions
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones3a (From −40 °C (−40 °F) to −37.2 °C (−35 °F)), 3b (From −37.2 °C (−35 °F) to −34.4 °C (−30 °F))
  • Planting timeEarly spring
  • Plant spacing average0.6 m (1.97 ft)
  • Propagation techniquesCuttings
  • Potential insect pestsLeafhoppers
  • Potential diseasesMildew

Goldenberry is an herbaceous perennial that requires subtropical climates. Warm temperatures and plenty of sunlight are essential to determine nutrient levels.

Growing Guidelines

  • Goldenberry is tolerant of poor soils and prefers a pH ranging from neutral to slightly alkaline (5.6 - 7.8).

  • It can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

  • Goldenberry plants require 24 - 31 inches (600 - 800 mm) of annual precipitation.

  • The most sustainable altitude for goldenberry's growth is between 5,905 - 9,185 feet (1,800 - 2,800 m) above sea level.

Additional Information

Plant Biology

The goldenberry plant, which can grow up to 24 - 36 inches (90 - 160 cm) tall, has round, yellow and red blooms that eventually form a calyx. The green calyx opens to a round, yellow-orange fruit surrounded by petals that turns into a brown husk when they dry out, enclosing the berry.

  • Classification

    Goldenberry (Physalis peruviana) is a member of the Solanaceae family, which contains 2,700 species spread over 98 genera. This family is often referred to as the nightshade family and many of its members are of great economical importance, such is the case of potato (Solanum tuberosum), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), and eggplant (Solanum melongena).

    The Physalis genus in particular contains about 90 species, of which all but one are native to the New World.

  • Cultivars of Goldenberry

    Physalis peruviana has no distinct subspecies. However, it does have several cultivars, which mainly feature differences in berry size and taste. Some of the most common include 'Giant Grosso', 'Giant Golden Berry', and 'Long Aston'.

Historical Information

The importance of goldenberry throughout history dates back to pre-Incan times. It was used widely in these days throughout all of South America, though it remains uncertain whether it originated in just the Peruvian highlands, or if the region also encapsulated present-day Ecuadorian territory. Goldenberry was used at this time predominately for its medicinal purposes.

By the 18th century, goldenberry was being grown by settlers on the Cape of Good Hope, as well as in England. From these places, its use spread across the world.

Indigenous women in 18th-century Peru used the fruits to make perfume.

Economic Data

Goldenberry enjoys economic importance due to its richness in nutrients and its related medical benefits, which is especially relevant to the jam and juice industries. Ecuador and Colombia produce the largest amount of the world's goldenberry, though England also cultivates a large proportion of it. Peru, Nigeria, and South Africa are also important contributing producers, the latter inciting greater English consumption due to the development of successful cultivars during the 19th century.

Other Uses

  • Gardening. Goldenberry is used as an ornamental plant or a garnish for dishes because of its curious calyx and bright color.

Bibliography

  • USDA Nutrient Database, Nutrient report 09107: Gooseberries, raw
  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Oil goldenberry (Physalis peruviana L., 2003
  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Supercritical carbon dioxide extract exhibits enhanced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Physalis peruviana, 2006
  • Journal of Dietary Supplements, Golden berry juice attenuates the severity of hepatorenal injury, 2013
  • Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, Assessment of antidiabetic activity and acute toxicity of leaf extracts from Physalis peruviana L. in guinea-pig, 2013
  • Fruits of Warm Climates, Cape gooseberry
  • Lost Crops of the Incas, pp. 241-9
  • Peruvian Powerfoods