Jerusalem Cherry--Ornamental and Deer Resistant
Jerusalem cherry, Solanum pseudocapsicum, has care needs similar
to the Christmas peppers. It bears starlike 1/2-inch white flowers
from July to September, followed by round orange-scarlet or yellow
berries. The berries are not cherries at all, and are poisonous--so
keep them well away from children. The fruit may cling to the
plant for two months if kept in an environment of 50 degrees F.
to 60 degrees F. during the day and at 45 degrees F. to 55 degrees
F. at night.
The Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a plant belonging
to the same family as deadly nightshade, whose fruit are also
poisonous. These perennials can be grown decoratively as a house
plant, but in some areas of Australia the plant has become a weed.
The fruit is considered poisonous and deer WILL NOT eat the foliage
The plant is perennial in zones up to USDA 8. Native to Peru,
they can survive frosts and cold weather. They generally live
up to 10 years, producing fruit usually in their 2nd or 3rd year,
and every year after that. Their fruit is extremely similar to
cherry tomatoes (as they share the same genus with tomatoes) in
taste and texture, and are therefore easily confused with them.
S. pseudocapsicum's poison is primarily solanocapsine, which is
similar to other alkaloids found in their genus, such as solanine
and atropine. Although the toxin is poisonous, it is generally
not life threatening. It may cause gastric problems, including
vomiting and gastroenteritis. Some folks from Tennessee eat the
fruit but we eat road-kill too!! It is thought that only RedBirds
(Cardinals) eat the fruit.