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.