P&PDL Logo

The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 15 September 2003

An Apple in the Potato Family – Apple-of-Peru

Glenn Nice, Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University
Bill Johnson, Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University

Recent talk coming out of Ohio is that they have been seeing apple-of-Peru (Nicandra physalodes) in some of their vegetable crops. In the case with our neighbors to the East, it has been appearing in Solanaceae (potato and eggplant for example) crops. Apple-of-Peru has been reported as being very competitive in corn and soybean. Saigusa et al. (1993) reported a 30 to 50% yield loss from corn in infested fields.

Apple-of-Peru is an annual with light blue showy flowers, 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide and long (figure 1). It generally blooms from July to September. This plant can reach a height of 6 feet. The leaves are ovate or oblong tapering to a blunt point. The fruit is approximately 1/2 inch diameter berry. One identifying feature is that the berry is surrounded by a large loose calyx (figure 2). Research done on the germination of Apple-of-Peru by H. Watanabe et al. (2002) indicated that it germinated best on the soil surface.

Research done at Ohio State University indicates that apple-of-Peru is tolerant to Command, Dual II Magnum, Outlook, Basis and Permit (http://corn.osu.edu/archive/2003/aug/03-25.html). Glyphosate was reported to control plants, although some seedlings were reported to have escaped treatment.

The Purdue University Weed Science team has not had any calls or complaints on Apple-of-Peru yet, but if you know this plant or are dealing with it in Indiana, please contact either Glenn Nice or Bill Johnson at Purdue University.


Figure 1. Apple-of-Peru
with flowers and fruit

Figure 2. The Apple-of-Peru berry
surrounded by the calyx

Photos courtesy of: D. Doohan and Joel Felix, Ohio State University

Referenced Material:
Saigusa, M.K., K. Shibuya, and T. Abe. 1993. Ecological study of Nicandra physalodes (L.) Pers. Grown on dent corn field. J. Jpn. Soc. Grassl. Sci. 39:71-76
Watanabe, H., Y. Kusagaya, and M. Saigusa. 2002. Environmental factors affecting germination of apple of Peru. Weed Sci. 50:152-156.
Britton and Brown. 1970. An Illustrated Flora of The Northern United States and Canada 2nd edition. Dover Publications, Inc. New York


Back to top of page | Past Pictures of the Week Index

Last updated: 15 September 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University