Erect or spreading, rhizomatous perennial 2-9 dm; pubescence of the upper parts, pedicels, and cal distinctly villous, of slender, spreading hairs; lvs chiefly ovate or rhombic, 3-8 cm, acute, shallowly and irregularly sinuate-dentate or sometimes entire, broadly rounded or subcordate at base, not decurrent, hairy on both sides; pedicels to 1 cm at anthesis, to 3 cm in fr; cal-lobes deltoid or ovate, the margins straight or slightly concave; cor 12-20 mm; filaments dilated at the summit, about as broad as the anthers, these 3-4.5 mm long; fruiting cal ovoid, 3-4 cm, retuse at base; fr green; 2n=24. Dry or sandy soil, upland woods, and prairies, probably our most abundant sp.; Que. and N.S. to Minn., Colo., and Utah, s. to Fla. and Tex. June-Sept. Typical P. heterophylla has the hairs of the stem and lower lf-surface very fine, viscid, and densely crowded, seldom over 0.5 mm, more copious on the lf-veins than across the surface. Plants with sparser, more uniformly distributed pubescence, of jointed hairs 1-2 mm, with a similar range but not extending quite so far n., have been called var. ambigua (A. Gray) Rydb. (P. ambigua; P. nyctaginea), but the difference is only doubtfully significant.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
This species prefers dry, sandy soil and is found on wooded slopes and along roadsides. [Deam mentions the species P. ambigua which is described as having dense, long, flat, jointed hairs on the upper part of the plant.] This species also prefers a dry, sandy soil and is found in cultivated and fallow fields, along roadsides and railroads, and in open woods. It usually has not been separated from the preceding species [Physalis heterophylla].