Physalis longifolia, commonly known as ground cherry or wild tomatillo, is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). This family includes familiar foods like tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos and eggplant, as well as known medicinal plants such as nightshade. Physalis longiflora, and other species in the genus Physalis, including domesticated tomatillos, produce husk-covered fruit which were used extensively as food by numerous Native American tribes. Charred seeds are frequently found with other food remains at archeological sites, indicating the fruits were commonly used in cooking. Recorded medicinal uses of Physalis species include use of the root to treat headache and stomach trouble, and as a dressing for wounds. You can read more details about the use of Physalis in our publication about the ethnobotanical (cultural use) of Physalis longifolia and related species.
Phyalis longifolia is among more than 200 plant species native to Kansas and the Great Plains that have been collected for medicinal testing through a collaboration the Medicinal Chemistry laboratory of Dr. Barbara Timmerman at the University of Kansas. After initial screenings indicated the potential for medicinal compounds, the Timmerman Lab discovered 14 compounds new to science in P. longiflora. Four of the compounds have shown potent cytotoxity against specific types of cancer.