Purple Tomatillo – Physalis Ixocarp

Purple Tomatillo – Physalis Ixocarp

The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name.

Tomatillos originated in Mexico and were cultivated in the pre-Columbian era.  A staple of Mexican cuisine, they are eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes, particularly salsa verde.

ike all tomatillos, the Purple tomatillo is encased in a papery husk, which turns from green to brown and splits open as the fruit matures. The fruit itself starts out pale green and ripens to a deep violet color, and that rich purple skin coloring bleeds into its bright green interior flesh. Purple tomatillos have a tangy-sweet taste, much sweeter than their green counterparts, with citrus-like hints and sub-acid flavors of plum and pear. The semi-determinate, heavily branched plants have dark green leaves with striking purple veins, grow to an average of just three feet, and produce high yields of this exceptional fruit.

Purple tomatillos, botanically named Physalis ixocarpa or Physalis philadelphica, are a member of the Solanaceae family alongside the tomato, and are in the genus Physalis, along with the cape gooseberry. The tomatillo is known by many names, including jamberry, husk cherry, or husk tomato, Husk Tomato or Mexican Tomato.

Tomatillos originated in Mexico, and were cultivated by the Aztecs dating back as early as 800 B.C. Purple tomatillos are still found growing as a wild weed-like plant, invading fields of corn throughout the central highlands of Mexico. Plants will thrive in temperate to sub-tropical regions with little rainfall and full sun. This variety will grow well in most regions of the United States, and it is known for being somewhat tolerant of extreme conditions, from dry farming to slightly cool nights.

Date Planted

June, 2017

Purchase Info

seeds from NJ USA



Diseases and Problems



Nutritional Value
The anthocyanins in Purple tomatillos, responsible for the purple coloring, has cancer-fighting compounds, and is good source of antioxidants. Tomatillos are known for having decent amounts of beta-carotene, which is good for your vision, and they are also a good source of niacin, which helps to improve energy levels throughout the day. Tomatillos also have a positive potassium-sodium ratio, which reduces blood pressure.

Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine and cooking 101 with tomatillos equals salsa. The tomatillo’s role in the kitchen does not end with salsa, though. Purple tomatillos can be substituted for recipes calling for green tomatillos, though they are considered more exceptional for their coloring and their sweeter flavor. Purple tomatillos lend themselves to many different cooking methods. They can be stewed, fire roasted, grilled, broiled, blanched, puréed, chopped fresh and utilized as an ingredient in applications both hot and cold. Traditional and authentic accompanying ingredients include corn, tomatoes, garlic, chiles, avocado, red, white and black beans, tortillas, fresh and aged cheeses. Tomatillos can heighten the flavor of pork, chicken and seafood in Latin recipes as well as seasonal and regional recipes throughout the months of late Summer and Fall. Herbal companions include cilantro, basil, mint, epazote, cumin and oregano. As Purple tomatoes deliver more sweetness, they can also be utilized to make marmalades, jams and preserves. Once tomatillos are removed front their husk, they should be washed to remove the slightly sticky film from the skin’s surface. Fresh tomatillos in their husks will stay fresh refrigerated in a paper bag for up to two weeks. Cooked tomatillos can also be preserved by canning them or freezing them for later use.

Ethnic/Cultural Info
Purple tomatillos, like green varieties, are a very popular fruit in Latin America, and are a staple of Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine, particularly for salsas. Tomatillo cultivation became vital to Mexican agricultural industries in the 1980’s, as they began sending about 80% of their annual crop to the United States.


Tomatillos are heirlooms, and saved seed can be grown year after year to produce the same fruit as the parent.