Monday, August 6, 2012

Japanese Lanterns--Paula

I had a huge crop of Japanese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) in my garden this year. It's so much fun to use orange paint! Actually, I mixed it because there were several different shades.
Japanese Lanterns are also called: Chinese Lanterns, Ground Cherry, Husk Tomato, Winter Cherry and Jerusalem Cherry. This perennial comes from southeastern Europe and Japan. It gets it's name from the distinctive color and shape of the papery husk, which resembles a Japanese Lantern.
The plant grows up to two feet tall, producing white, 5-petaled flowers in mid summer. The flowers give way to a light green, lantern-shaped husk with a berry inside. Dried, they are wonderful in arrangements. I currently have about a dozen stems in a glass vase and it's stunning. As it matures, the husk turns a bright orange-red color and turns papery. As it decays, it becomes brown and lacey, showing nothing but the veins and the single seed inside. In Virginia, it can be rather invasive in the garden.
IMPORTANT: The unripe berries and the leaves of Japanese Lantern plants are poisonous.
Tomatillos and Japanese Lanterns are both members of the deadly nightshade (Physalis) family, as are tomatoes.


  1. I love these plants and now I think I need to plant some again. You did a great job on them.

  2. Thanks Teri. It always amazes me how much more there is to a plant when you take the time to really look at it.

  3. Such beautiful shades (hues?) and a graceful diagonal! I doubt they'd like our cooler and – this summer – rainy summer. Worth a try to grow. Failing that, I'll just admire your painting!

  4. WOW, Paula...these look real. We have the wild relative in our local park.

  5. These look so pretty! I've never seen them in the wild.

  6. Thanks Elva. I don't know if these are considered wild or not. They've always grown in my mother's and my aunt's gardens, and through "pass alongs," are now in mine.


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