Physalis alkekengi

Thanks to Ruth for providing both today’s photograph and write-up:

The holidays are upon us! ‘Tis the season to carve pumpkins, cook up old family recipes and throw a few logs in the fireplace. As a little girl, my father and I would harvest the Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) from our garden to decorate the house for the holidays. We would buy gourds and straw flowers (Helichrysum bracteatum) to make a festive centerpiece for the table and fireplace mantles.

As a garden specimen, Chinese lanterns are fairly easy to grow (do note the immature fruits are reputedly poisonous, though!). They have a moderately aggressive root system and will spread. We grew them in a shady area with only filtered light but I understand they will do well in a sunny spot as well. Chinese lanterns seem like such a special and exotic plant but the genus Physalis is common all over the Americas (particularly Mexico), Europe and Asia. They are also called winter berry and alkekengi.

Daniel adds: For a little bit of extra reading today, you might want to see what Alex Waterhouse-Hayward has to say about UBC Botanical Garden.

Physalis alkekengi

8 responses to “Physalis alkekengi”

  1. lavender

    what a lovly flower ! chinese lantern ! its call me remember when i was young, my dad taken me walk in street in new year eve . there was a lot chinese lantern . but dad past away in 2001 year. i am very miss dad veryday …
    thank you daniel , wonderful photo let me miss my dad more and more . but i was happy !
    i see a this flower in street but was know what’s name by this flower , so thank you let me know it is call chinese lantern !
    such beautiful name !
    thank you very much daniel !

  2. lavender

    Thanks to Ruth too !

  3. Carole Miller

    I never knew their name until now. Thank you Ruth.

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    memories are made of this
    the wonders of fall bitter sweet
    dried silver dollars and the lanterns
    and yes straw flowers babys breath
    so many dried flowers hanging from
    the rafters of way side stores
    thank for the memories and driveing
    down under miles of red and gold leaves
    and the wonders of the white montains

  5. Beverley

    Physalis alkekengi – Z6 – RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
    Physalis alkekengi – Z5-8 – A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk
    Physalis fi-sa-lis From Gk. physa [a bladder] referring to the bladder-like fruits. alkekengi al-ke-ken-jee – from al kakendi the Arabic name. Dictionary of Plant Names, Coombes

  6. Jasmine

    It is lovely to see the orange color; the species here in Hawaii does not turn such a vibrant color. The variety here is known as Poha. Its tasty fruit is edible when the outer husk surrounding it has turned brown. Poha is much sought after for jam, and is a tasty treat taken right off this rambling, loosely upright bush.

  7. Margaret-Rae Davis

    These Chinese Lantemes bring back nice memories. Next year I will have to grow them again. Very nice photograph.
    Thank you,

  8. Sam

    These are also invasive…

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