Physalis alkekengi is also known as Alkekengi officinarum, Physalis franchetii, Bladder Cherry, Chinese Lantern, Japanese Lantern, Strawberry Groundcherry, Winter Cherry, Bladder Herb, Devil’s Berry, Devil’s Bladder, Red Nightshade, Cape Gooseberry, Strawbery Tomato, or Strawberry-and-tomato. It is native to Asia though most Physalis are native to the Americas. It is a herbaceous perennial plant. It belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants.
Physalis alkekengi grows to about 60cm or 2ft. It has creamy-white flowers. It has a five-lobed corolla and a basal calyx which matures into an orange papery fruit covering that resembles a Chinese lantern. It flowers in the summer and the fruits follow by early autumn. The ripe fruit is edible. But the calyx and other parts of the plants are toxic including the fruits if it is not ripe. Physalis alkekengi is usually grown in temperate regions, it has ovate leaves.
How to grow Physalis alkekengi:
Grow Physalis alkekengi in the sun or partial shade. Plant it in moist soils but well-drained. Propagate from seed or by division, Physalis alkekengi spreads through an underground system as the mint plant does. It is usually disease-free. But watch out for caterpillars, slugs, and snails. Physalis alkekengi is deer-resistant.
Physalis alkekengi dried fruit is used in Unani traditional medicine. It is used for antiseptic and diuretic as well as sedative effects. It contains caffeic acid and ethyl ester. Physalis alkekengi flower has a cultural significance in Japan. Every year in July a market called hōzuki-ichi provides the flowers which are used as offering to help guide the souls of the dead.
You can dry the Physalis alkekengi flowers by cutting a bunch of them and placing them in a tall container or hang them upside down.