Welcome to the NPWRC Herbarium

The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center's herbarium was established in the 1960's to house reference and voucher specimens of plants for researchers in wetland and waterfowl ecology in the northern Great Plains. Since then, specimens from many other areas of the United States and Canada have been added to the collection. In 1978, the Herbarium (code NPWRC) was listed in the International Index Herbariorum to facilitate inter-herbarium loans and exchanges.

Today, the NPWRC herbarium houses over 6,000 plant specimens. All specimens in the collection are in a searchable database that can be accessed from this page. For more information on the NPWRC Herbarium, please contact the collection's manager using the “Contact Us” form found on this page.

Featured Plant - Physalis heterophylla

Plant Image

Most North Dakota collections of clammy ground cherry have come from the southern half of the state, but there are scattered records across the northern tier of counties. Elsewhere, the plant can be found from Nova Scotia to Utah and south to Florida and Texas, at elevations up to 7,500 ft.

Clammy ground cherry is perennial from a deeply buried caudex. Plants three feet tall have been observed, but ours are usually about a foot tall. Stems are roughened by stiff, sticky hairs. Leaves are variable in size and shape, but usually are 3-4 inches long and 2-3 inches wide and are on petioles about 1-2 inches long. Flowers droop from pedicels in the leaf axils and are blotched pale yellow and about one half inch wide. Berries are yellowish, about one fourth inch in diameter, and enclosed in a papery inflated calyx.

The plant blooms until October in all types of open, particularly sandy, habitats including native prairie, open woods, and waste places. Ground cherries are edible and were eaten raw or made into sauces by many Amerindian tribes. Plants are still grown for fruit by modern gardeners. Plants seem to do best under light grazing.

Clammy ground cherry is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) which contains about 3000 species, widely distributed but most numerous in tropical America. The family includes bittersweet, pepper, petunia, potato, tomato, and tobacco, but also the deadly henbane. The genus Physalis (Greek for "a bladder", from the inflated calyx) contains about 100 species worldwide, but only two occur in North Dakota. Heterophylla means "variable-leaved" in botanical Latin.

The species was described for science in 1831 by Christian Daniel Nees von Esenbeck (1776-1858), a German botanist and professor in Breslau.

Author Credit:

"Plant of the Week" comes from a series of articles about native wildflowers of the North Dakota grasslands written by NPWRC biologist Harold A. Kantrud. The articles appeared weekly in local newspapers. Each article is three to four paragraphs in length and usually consists of the life history of the species, its identifying traits, where in North Dakota one can expect to find it, and its nomenclatural history. Kurt A. Adolfson and Jack Lefor provided the many excellent photographs used in the original articles and this resource.