I recently moved and the spring/early summer in New England has been a chance to figure out what previous residents planted. One I have yet to identify is this plant:

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About 15 popped up in a south facing bed. Very straight up and down. At first I thought it might be a tomatillo, but the leaves don’t look quite right, nor is it really bushy like many I’ve seen.

Does anyone have any idea what it might be? Hardiness zone 5, northwest CT, USA.

2 Answers 2


It's possibly Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi). You'll know for sure if the husked fruits turn orange. It's considered an invasive weed in many states.

  • Interesting. Hadn’t considered this. I will leave at least a few to determine eventual husk/fruit color.
    – jwwz
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:01

If it turns out not to be a Chinese Lantern, then it's probably an annual weed, not something the previous residents planted. Most nightshades in gardening/landscaping will be annuals or tender perennials grown as annuals (in your region, at least).

Since you bought the house in the spring, it seems unlikely the previous residents would have planted annual vegetables like tomatillos or ground cherries, which wouldn't produce any crop until after they had moved out. If they grew those plants in a previous year, it could possibly be self-seeded.

This may be obvious to you, but definitely don't eat any fruits from this plant if you're not 100% certain you've correctly ID'd it as a food plant.

  • Definitely not doing any kind of eating assay, but appreciate the reminder. And yes, if anything these would be volunteers from a previous year. It is in the location that they grew vegetables, so definitely a possibility.
    – jwwz
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:03

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