Smooth groundcherry Physalis longifolia var. subglabrata Photo: Theodore Webster, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
The plant can reach a height of approximately 3 feet, but can set seeds as a shorter plant. It reproduces from seed, which germinate in late spring or early summer, and from rhizomes. Flowers are present through the summer. The flower petals are yellow to yellowish green with purple centers. The five petals are fused together to form a "cup-like" flower. The developing fruit is surrounded by a distinct papery, "bubble-like" cover.
The fruit is an orange or red colored berry. Seedling leaves are alternate and have a strong odor when damaged. Mature plants also have alternate leaves. The stems have minimal hairs when new, but become smooth as they age. Older growth becomes woody. Groundcherry has an extensive, fiborous root system, which also grows deep into the soil profile. These rhizomes are think and fleshy.
Due to the sturdy root system, established groundcherry plants are not easy to hand remove from the landscape. There are a couple of pre-emergent herbicides that can be used: oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL, nursery only) and oxyfluorfen + trifluralin (Harrell's Granular Herbicide 75). Post-emergent herbicides include: diquat dibromide (Reward); glyphosate (Roundup) and oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL).
Remember to always read the label for proper application sites, rates and precautions.