These fruits (also known as groundcherries) are encased in an unusual, lantern-like husk. It's part of the nightshade family and thus shares a relation with the much more familiar tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Since it has a mild, refreshing acidity similar to the tomato, it can be used in many of the same ways. Imagine enjoying some pasta with fresh physalis sauce!
Native to the Americas, they are typically imported from South America. Some people grow them in the garden just because they like the way these interesting plants look with their large, brightly colored husks and their small fruits, reports the University of Minnesota Extension. However, they are difficult to grow because the fruit tends to fall from the vine before it ripens.