FAQ: Growing Chinese Lantern Plants (Physalis alkekengi)

| 4/14/2010 4:55:37 PM

TaylorLast spring, I introduced and encouraged you to try planting chinese lantern plants (Physalis alkekengi). If you didn’t try it then, try it now! 

These plants will be difficult to find already started, but the good news is that they do well from seed. Now that spring is here (FINALLY), this is your best opportunity to find seed packets from which to start in any local nursery or superstore. 

After my first blog, which you can read here, I received dozens of questions from interested readers. I think it best to address those questions in three simple, question-answer formats: Growing. Cooking. Healing.

The Chinese lantern plant, also known as the winter or bladder cherry,
bears a small fruit in the tomatillo family with a sweet flavor.
Photo by Ivaschenko Roman

Q. Is the chinese lantern plant an herb? 

A. Chinese lantern plant is herbaceous, which means that parts of the plants are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It is a member of the family Solanaceae, most commonly known as nightshade plants. Nightshade plants also include potatoes, tomatoes and petunias, and share the genus Physalis with cape gooseberries (a very close relative).