Chinese Lantern – Physalis alkekengi

I first saw this plant as a child, like most I was fascinated with what I thought was the fruit. I picked it (without permission) and tore it open to find the true fruit inside…looking for all the world like little tomatoes!

The fruit is edible as long as it is ripe. If it is green it is toxic and can cause digestive problems…diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset, and gripping. Like other member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade or Potato family) it contains solanine which is what causes the symptoms.

In Japan the fruit (it is believed) was at one time used for contraception. The whole plant is anti-inflammatory, fever –reducing, cough suppressing, and expectorant. The herb is marketed today for myriad medical uses, such as bed-wetting, facial paralysis, nocturnal (nighttime) incontinence, hoarse voice and … (strangely) the desire to talk constantly.

Care must be exerted to keep this plant under control. In areas that are very favorable this plant can become invasive. It spreads though root runners, as well as reseeding itself abundantly!

Chinese Lantern

Chinese LanternChinese Lantern


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