Golden pearls look like tiny tomatoes or yellow currants, but they taste more like cherries and can make you very sick if you eat them before they ripen.
Native to Africa and Europe, golden pearls (Solanum villosum) are now found in Australia and North America. Also known as golden wonderberry, hairy nightshade, red nightshade, and woolly nightshade, this sprawling annual is considered a weed by many.
These members of the nightshade family produce clusters of yellow or orange berries that are sweet and edible when ripe and can make you very sick if eaten when unripe. The hairy leaves are also edible, but similar to poke sallet, the leaves must be boiled a couple of times to be safe to eat.
Golden pearls plants
Golden pearls make nice container plants and they begin producing fruit early in the growing season and will continue into autumn. Golden pearls that are grown in containers will produce smaller fruit than plants growing in the ground or raised beds. These plants tend to be bushy and can grow 36” tall.
How to grow golden pearls
Seeds are best started indoors or in a protected spot once temperatures begin to rise and your last frost date is behind you. Only cover seeds lightly, if at all, with soil. Keep them moist using a mister or water from the bottom with a tray until they sprout. This will keep them from being flooded into a corner.
Seeds are slow to germinate, taking 20 to 40 days, but they grow quickly once they get going. Plants should be spaced 24” apart and watered regularly. They prefer moist soils and can tolerate partial shade though they grow best in full sun.
Golden pearls are not as sweet as groundcherries, but they just might make a nice addition to your garden, landscape, or patio.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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