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Nicandra physalodes

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
180 centimetres tall
Grassland, wasteland.

Blue, 6 petals
Solitary, bell-shaped, pale blue or violet flowers with a white throat. The flowers measure about 3 to 5cm across and only open for a few hours per day.
The fruit is a brown berry enclosed inside the net-veined sepals. The berries each measure about 1.5cm in diameter.
An annual flower with pointed oval leaves up to 10cm (4 inches) long. The leaves are toothed and have wavy edges.
Smells foetid.
Other Names:
Apple of Sodom, Peruvian Bluebell, Shoo-fly Plant.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Nicandra physalodes, also known as apple of Peru or shoo fly plant, is an annual plant that is native to South America. It belongs to the nightshade family and is known for its small, white or violet flowers and hairy, egg-shaped leaves. Nicandra physalodes is a tall plant that can reach heights of up to 3 feet (1 meter) and is often used as a border plant or in naturalized areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Nicandra physalodes prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and slugs. Nicandra physalodes is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Apple-of-Peru, also known as Nicandra physalodes, is a beautiful and unique plant that is native to South America. It is a member of the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

The plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and has large, green leaves that are slightly hairy. The most striking feature of this plant is its flowers, which are bell-shaped and come in shades of blue and purple. The flowers are followed by large, green fruit that resemble apples, hence the common name "Apple-of-Peru". However, the fruit is not edible and should not be consumed.

Apple-of-Peru is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that can tolerate a wide range of conditions. It is drought-tolerant and can grow in full sun or partial shade. It is also frost-tolerant, making it a great choice for gardeners in cooler climates.

This plant is often grown as an annual, but it can also be grown as a perennial in warmer climates. It is a great choice for adding color and interest to a garden, and it can be used as a backdrop or in a border. It can also be grown in pots or containers.

One interesting feature of Apple-of-Peru is that it is toxic to many insects and animals, which can be useful for keeping pests out of your garden. However, it is also toxic to humans and animals, so care should be taken when handling the plant.

Overall, Apple-of-Peru is a unique and beautiful plant that can add a lot of interest to any garden. It is easy to grow and care for, and it can be used in a variety of different ways. Just be sure to handle it with care and keep it away from children and pets.

In addition to its ornamental value, Apple-of-Peru has also been used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains a variety of alkaloids and other compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties.

Traditionally, the plant has been used to treat a variety of conditions including headaches, fever, and menstrual cramps. It has also been used to treat digestive issues and as a sedative.

However, it's important to note that despite its medicinal properties, it is not recommended to consume the plant or any of its parts, as it can be toxic when ingested.

Apple-of-Peru is also a popular plant among butterfly enthusiasts, as it is a host plant for the swallowtail butterfly. The caterpillars of the swallowtail butterfly feed exclusively on the leaves of the Apple-of-Peru, making it an important plant for maintaining healthy populations of these beautiful insects.

In terms of propagation, Apple-of-Peru can be easily grown from seed or cuttings. The seeds germinate easily and quickly and can be sown directly into the ground or started indoors. Cuttings can also be taken from the plant and rooted to create new plants.

Another interesting fact about Apple-of-Peru is that it is a close relative of the plant commonly known as "shoo fly" or "shoo-fly plant." This plant, also known as Nicandra physalodes var. pilosa, is similar in appearance to Apple-of-Peru, but it is covered in fine, white hair.

Like Apple-of-Peru, shoo fly is also toxic to humans and animals and should be handled with care. However, it is also said to have insect repellent properties and has been traditionally used to repel flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects, hence the name "shoo-fly."

In terms of cultivation, both Apple-of-Peru and shoo fly can be grown in similar conditions and have similar requirements. Both plants prefer well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. They are also both drought-tolerant and can handle frost, making them suitable for a wide range of climates.

In conclusion, Apple-of-Peru and shoo-fly plant are two unique and interesting plants that can add a lot of color and interest to any garden. Both plants are easy to grow and care for and have some medicinal properties. However, it is important to remember that both plants are toxic and should be handled with care, and kept away from children and pets.