The Jerusalem Cherry has a few different names, (i.e. Winter Cherry,
Christmas Cherry, Madeira Cherry, Cleveland Cherry, and Coral Bush. In
French its called, Cerisier de Jerusalem, which means Cherry Tree of
Jerusalem. I have seen these names listed for this plant, in old
houseplant books and on the internet.
There are two different types (species) of the Jerusalem Cherry
(Solanum Pseudocapsicum) and (Solanum Capsicastrum). Very often, they
are confused for each other because they basically look the same,
especially in cultivation with the many varieties available today. Most
flower shops etc, do not label the particular species/variety when you
purchase it. The Pseudo-capsicum is normally a larger plant, while the
capsicastrum is more compact. But I have seen dwarf varieties of the
Pseudo-capsicum. Also there is a Variegated Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum
This plant dates back to the 1600's & is native to Madeira, Brazil, &
Uruguay (I did read on a russian website, that this plant was in
cultivation back in 1596). A very early account of this plant, is in a
book called, Stirpium Historiae Pemptades, revised edition of the year
1616, by Dutch botanist Rembert Dodoens. Quoted by Linnaeus at a later
date, Dodoens describes the plant, speaks of its cultivation, explains
its cultivation, explains its name etc. He also mentions that
Pseudocapsicum gets its name from its likeness to Capsicum. Books I
have read, say the JC plant was a very popular Christmas plant during
the Victorian era. You also see this plant in many old house plant
books from the 50's 60's & 70's. Today (as of 09-28-04) , the plant is
still sold in large numbers, but many places (i.e. Home Depot etc)
carry pepper plants instead. Ornamental peppers are easier to grow then
the JC plant & ornamental peppers are not poisonous. The Jerusalem
Cherry's berries are mildly poisonous, it would be best to keep them
away from small children & pets. This South American plant's name
derives from its colorful berries. The names Jerusalem Cherry,
Christmas Cherry, Winter Cherry, Coral Bush, etc are all associated
with this plant, because the plant is usually offered during the
Christmas/Holiday season. The name "Jerusalem" in general has been
given to many plants, i.e Jerusalem sage,artichoke,oak etc. Another
source that I have read, an expert on plant names, said the word
Jerusalem, as in other plant names, is to stand for as a vague name for
a distant foreign country.
The care for this plant is pretty straight forward. The JC plant needs
bright light & a cool room (around 60f) during the winter months. Feed
at half strength fert from Jan-May while plant is indoors. In the
spring, before I put this plant outdoors, I cut it back almost halfway
& then bring it out for the summer. The JC Plant needs to be outside in
order for the flowers to be pollinated. Give your JC plant Tomato
Fertilizer or Flowering plant Fertilizer from May-Oct (I live in New
JERSEY,usa). From Oct-Dec do not fertilize the JC plant, so it may
rest. Water the plant well, when the soil starts to slightly dry water
well again. The JC plant likes full sun. Some books claim this plant is
an annual & to discard after fruiting, but this is wrong. The JC plant
is a perennial & can be kept for many years, I have one since 1992.
Just watch for whiteflies, they sometimes attack this plant.
Also, there are several varieties of this plant.... NEW PATTERSON..
standered JC plant sold, green leaves, berries are green & turn
orange/redish... JOKER..This is dwarf, berries are yellowish, orange &
red..... FANCY..This is a small variety.. SNOWFIRE...This has white
berries, that turn red.. CHERRY JUBILEE...This has white berries,
yellow, then red berries... JUBZILEE..This is another dwarf plant...
RED GIANT...This has large berries (looks allot like cherry tomatoes)
SNOWSTORM...This is the variegated Jerusalem Cherry.. BALLAD..This is a
small variety with whitish green berries, that turn red... Finally
CAPITAL...This has green berries that turn red.
I know that a website glasshouseworks.com sells this plant & J&L Hudson
Seedsman usually sells this plant, as well as B&T world Seeds. Also
StokesSeeds, this company has been around since 1881, this company
sells JC seeds. If you ever need some seeds, I usually have some, just
zap me an email. Its a great plant to own, and from my experience, most
people love it.