Tomatillo means "little tomato" in Spanish. See more pictures of tomatillos.

Tomatillo, a member of the tobacco family, is a tender annual grown for its pulpy fruit, which resembles a small, green tomato. Tomatillo, or ground cherry, grows to 4 feet tall. It has deeply lobed leaves, yellow flowers, and a papery husk that contains a 21/2-inch green fruit. The fruit is widely used in making jams and salsa.

Tomatillos Image Gallery


Common Names: Tomatillo, tomate verde, Mexican tomato, ground cherry

Scientific Name: Physalis ixocarpa

Hardiness: Tender (may not survive first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow tomatillos.

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Growing Tomatillo

Remove the husks from tomatillos prior to cooking and eating.

Tomatillo requires warm soil and a long, warm growing season. They need full sun and prefer a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

Plant tomatillo from transplants on the average date of last frost. Start transplants indoors from seed six to eight weeks before the planting date. When transplants are large enough to be planted in the garden, set plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Established plants are drought tolerant.


Harvesting Tomatillo

The time from planting to harvest is about 100 days. When the husk begins to turn brown, pick the fruit.

Types of Tomatillos

  • Purple de Milpa, 70-80 days, has deep purple fruits.
  • Mexican Strain, 65 days, is pale greenish-white.
  • Toma Verde, 60 days, has pale apple-green fruits.

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