Botanical Name :Physalis alkekengi franchetii
Species: P. alkekengi
Synonyms : P. latifolia.
Common Name:Bladder cherry, Chinese lantern, Japanese lantern, or Winter cherry;
It is an herbaceous perennial plant growing to 40–60 cm tall, with spirally arranged leaves 6–12 cm long and 4–9 cm broad. The flowers are white, with a five-lobed corolla 10–15 mm across, with an inflated basal calyx which matures into the papery orange fruit covering, 4–5 cm long and broad.
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade . The fully dormant plant is hardy in most of Britain, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant though it can be invasive . This sub-species, which is sometimes treated as a separate species, is a more vigorous form of P. alkekengi with larger fruits. Slugs are very fond of the new growth in spring and can destroy even quite large clumps.
Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse only just covering the seed. Germination usually takes place quickly and freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination. Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Fruit – raw or cooked. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own ‘paper bag’ (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten[34, 65]. Rich in vitamins, with twice the vitamin C of lemons, but not much taste. We have found them to be bitter and rather unpleasant. Young leaves – cooked. Caution is advised, the leaves are almost certainly poisonous, at least when raw.
The plant has a long history of herbal use, and an interesting chemistry, but it is seldom used in modern practice. The whole plant is antiphlogistic, antipyretic, antitussive and expectorant. An overdose of the plant is said to easily precipitate an abortion. The fruit is aperient, strongly diuretic and lithontripic. It is used internally in the treatment of gravel, suppression of urine etc and is highly recommended in fevers and in gout. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and can be used fresh, juiced or dried. The calyx should be removed. The leaves and stems are febrifuge and slightly tonic. They are used in the treatment of the malaise that follows malaria, and for weak or anaemic people. The fresh leaves have been used externally in the treatment of skin inflammations. The seed is used to promote early labour. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fruit. It is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder disorders.
Plants spread rapidly by their roots and can be grown as a ground cover. They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way.
In Japan, its seeds are used as part of the Bon Festival as offerings to guide the souls of the deceased. There is also an annual market dedicated to the flower which occurs every year on July 9th and 10th.
Known Hazards : All parts of the plant, except the ripe fruit, are poisonous
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider