This unsual flower which is shaped like a miniature Chinese lantern from which it derives its common name has the additional attraction of hiding a small fruit within. Apparently the fruit has been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes in the past. Two important things you need to know about this flower are that it tends to spread rather like mint and so is best grown in an container. Secondly the fruit should not be eaten until fully ripe since it is toxic up to that stage. This is all explained in an article which I found on the Gardening channel.
If you haven?t heard of Chinese lantern flower, you?re not alone. Also known as Bladder, Winter, or Ground cherry, this incognito herbaceous plant?s name can be confusing. But it?s as lovely as it is mysterious. Its papery orange blooms look like little lanterns set against vivid green foliage. The contrast is stunning, and the ?lanterns? are fascinating!
Within the pretty lanterns lies a sweet surprise. A small, round fruit similar to a berry is tucked neatly inside. The fruits have been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years, and it?s entirely possible that your very own ancestor might have baked the fruit from a Chinese paper lantern into a pie. Aside from being pretty and edible, Chinese lantern plant dries beautifully for a pretty, natural fall arrangement for decoration.
Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi) is a perennial plant from Europe and Asia that?s hardy down to U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 6. However, Chinese lantern plant has occasionally shed its tropical preferences and headed into some of the colder, northern zones, too. Chinese lantern is worth trying to grow in containers throughout the U.S. Just move a container full of Chinese lantern indoors before a freeze.
How to Grow and Care for Chinese Lantern Flower
Chinese lantern flower is easy to grow. In fact, it may be too easy to grow for some. Chinese lantern plant has a distinctive weedy growing habit. Like mint, it spreads quickly by underground stems. It?s hard to contain even if you cut the plant itself down to the ground. To really contain Chinese lantern flower, plant them in a container.
See more at the Gardening Channel