Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.) Pests and Diseases

Lusike Wasilwa, Vincent Ochieng, Francis Wayua, Anthony Nyaga, Stephen Mwanzia, Fatuma Omari and Paul Omolo


Name of Pest/Disease


Management Recommendation




Red spider mite

Transmit viruses; inhibit chlorophyll function and thus manufacture of food because of covering the leaf surface; and also feed on plant sap

Use Phytosilus culture sourced from Dudutech, Koppert or Real IPM etc.

Use natural insecticide (see recipe below)


Fruit Borer: Deudorix Isocrates

Larva bores into the fruit whereby young larva bore into tender fruits and older ones into mature fruits. Infested fruits turn brown and later become black. Mature fruits decay from one side


-Trap using lurer for trapping moths.

-Use biocontrol agents e.g. Trichograma (Dudutech, Real IPM) or Cortesia plutella (KALRO).

-Collect and destroy damaged fruits

-Remove alternate hosts such as pomegranate, guava, white sapota, and tamarind

ReleaseT. chilonis- 10 days interval -4 times

Inundative release ofTrichogramma chilonis @ 15 cc/ha

Ovipositional deterrent- Neem oil 3% or NSKE 5%




Found on the underside of leaves and feed on the plant sap to transmit viral diseases

·         Use yellow sticker traps;

·         Use biopesticides like Thuricide; or biostrain called Depel

·         Spray neem seed kernel extract 5% (50 kg)

·         Neem oil at 5 ml/liter.

·         Spray fish oil rosin soap 25 kg at 1 kg in 40 lit of water




Damage of the fruit for those where the calyx opens exposing the fruit

Use varieties where the calyx does not open




Suck plant sap

Spray using Thuricide according to the manufactures instruction



Puncture and cut leaves and are vectors of viruses

Intercrop cape gooseberry with repellent crops such as spring onions, mucuna, desmodium, dania (cillantro)




Feeds on leaves and causes damage resulting to formation of irregular holes. Some species of slugs live underground and feed on roots

-Collect and remove slugs by hand to reduce populations

-Use predators e.g. thrushes, hedgehogs, toads and ground beetles

-Use parasitic nematodes (EPNs)

-Organic molluscicidal pellets containing Iron phosphate




 Larvae cause severe damage by eating leaves and causing high defoliation leading to loss of fruit set

-Hand picking

-Use biopesticides available in the agrovets

-Use organic pyrethrum-based products according to

label instructions




-Decreases growth rates and causes stunting

-Transmits viruses and causes mottling of leaves, yellowing, browning, curling leaves,


-Low yields

-Eventual death of plants

Encourage beneficial insects including ladybirds, hoverflies, and lacewings, which are important aphid predators.

Use High-pressure spray from the garden hose can help remove aphids from plants.

organic pyrethrum-based pesticides




Leaf spot

Irregular spots on leaves that are brown or tan in the centre with a cream/yellow border

Prune plants to allow the leaves to dry up quickly

Use sulfur according to the manufacturers recommendation or 1.5 g in a litre of water every 15 days



Powdery mildew


The leaves are covered with gray-white powdery fungal patches


Fruits turn brown as they age when infected by powdery mildew

·         Prune and open up the canopy to allow air flow and hasten drying of foliage.


·         Avoid over application of farm yard manure


·         Avoid planting in low-lying areas with poor air-flow


Alternaria spp

Black mycelium on the fruit mainly on the distil end

·         Delay removal of calyx until ready for use.

·         After removing the calyx ensure that the fruit are kept dry


Fruit rots

Fruit have fungal mycelium that is either crew, white, gray or yellowish

Handle fruit with care, avoid compacting or squeezing

Fruit rots are usually caused by injury.



Source:  Miyake et al., 2015 


Plants wilt and suddenly die. Roots have dark colouration or milk area when dissected

Dig ditches along contours to improve drainage. Plant the gooseberry on raised beds


Nutrition disorders
Zinc deficiency



Veins and portions of leaf tissue with a purple hue

Apply fertilizer with micro-nutrients containing zinc


Under greenhouse production


White fly (see above)




Aphids (see above)



(Source of pictures: Lusike Wasilwa except where indicated)

Natural Insecticide for Controlling Red Spider Mite and Aphids

General insecticide for controlling red spider mites and aphids from Quincy Burges

  1. 4kgs of neem leaves
  2. 20L of water
  3. 1 crushed hot pepper
  4. 10 tablespoons of saboni (dish soap)
  5. 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil


  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Soak overnight
  3. Grind and strain
  4. Spray (normal applications)

 Beneficial insects

In gooseberry production insects such as ladybirds eat harmful ones such as aphids

Fig 8. Ladybird beetle on cape gooseberry leaves


In Kenya gooseberry grows as an understory crop in forests and is found in agro-forestry systems as an intercrop. They cover about 1 to 2.5m wide ground and thus a good crop for kitchen and school gardens. The can also be grown in landscapes as ornamentals. Cape gooseberries begin bearing 3 to 4 months after transplanting and continue bearing fruit for up to two years if maintained well. This crop has large return on investment and is sold in roadside, produce markets, grocery shops, supermarkets, and upscale supermarkets.

More on Harvesting,  Marketing, Nutritive Value and Utilization of Cape Gooseberry




1 Anon. Gooseberry mildew.
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3 Calderon, J.M., N. Ruiz, and L. Castellanos. (2012). Within and between plant variation of 4 beta-hydroxiwithanolide E in cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana; Solanaceae) Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 2012. 41: p. 21-25.
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  Puente L, Pinto-Munoz C, Castro E, Cortes M. (2011). Physalis peruvianum Linnaeus, the multiple properties of a highly functional fruit: A review. Food Research International. 44:1733-1740
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10 Tyagi S. and Sahay S. (2016). Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.): A new cash crop in India.
11 Yu Yen C, Chih Chiu C, Rong Chang F, Fu Chen J, Ching Hwang, Cheng Hseu Y, Ling /Ching Chang Y, Chin Ko Y, Chang H, Wu Y. 4β-hydroxywithanoide E from Physalis peruviana (golden berry) inhibits growth of human lung cancer cells through DNA damage, apoptosis and G2/M arrest. BMC Cancer 2010; 10; 46: 1-8.