Chinese Lantern Plant
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Chinese Lantern Plant
P Introduced Photo: Akhtar Malik
Common name: Chinese Lantern Plant, Bladder cherry, Japanese-lantern, Strawberry groundcherry, Winter cherry
Botanical name: Alkekengi officinarum    Family: Solanaceae (Potato family)
Synonyms: Physalis alkekengi L., Physalis hyemalis

Chinese Lantern Plant is easily identifiable by the large, bright orange to red papery covering over its fruit, which resembles paper lanterns. It is a perennial herb plant growing up 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 flower 1-1.5 cm across, with an inflated basal sepal-cup which matures into the papery orange fruit covering, 4-5 cm long and broad. In Japan, its bright and lantern-like fruiting calyces form a traditional part of the Bon Festival as offerings intended to help guide the souls of the dead. Chinese Lantern Plant is native to Temperate Eurasia, spreading from Eastern Europe to Western China.
Medicinal uses: The dried fruit is called the golden flower in the Unani system of medicine, and used as a diuretic, antiseptic, liver corrective, and sedative. In Chinese medicine, Alkekengi is used to treat such conditions as abscesses, coughs, fevers, and sore throat.

Identification credit: Akhtar Malik Photographed in Kashmir University Botanical Garden.

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