Chinese Lantern Facts
- The visually unique Chinese Lantern forms a rather astonishing plant. It also represents a relative of the aptly named deadly nightshade plant, Atropa Belladonna.
- The surprising plant is also easily recognizable by the unique covering on its fruit, which varies in color. The wispy thin coverings over the fruit resemble popular lanterns in China, thus the common name.
- It has become a rather popular ornamental species, due to its bright colors and distinctive appearance. These easily set it apart from other species.
- Furthermore, various parts of the plant also contain chemicals used in medicines.
Chinese Lantern Physical Description
Firstly, the Chinese Lantern is a herbaceous perennial and grows in an upright clump. Each plant averages roughly 24 in (61 cm) in both height and width.
The dark green leaves are abundant and are about 3 in (7.5 cm) in length. The white flowers develop small and rather sparse in number, and the lacy covering over the fruit serves as a protective layer.
These remain rather small, attaining an average diameter of about 0.6 in (15 mm). The fruit is also edible but rather tasteless.
The quite distinctive covering forms over the fruit of the Chinese Lantern as the fruit ripens during the later part of summer.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Solanales
- Family: Solanaceae
- Genus: Physalis
- Species: P. alkekengi
Chinese Lantern Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Within its native range, it also typically inhabits a specific habitat type. This consists of hedgerows and along damp paths. It commonly inhabits altitudes ranging from the plains to the lower slopes of mountains
As pretty as it looks, the plant can also be invasive. The roots spread great distances. These may produce new shoots at great distances from the original plant.
In spite of its beauty and use in medicines, care should be taken with the plant. Except for the fruit itself, all parts of the lovely plant remain toxic.