Jack-o-Lantern Plant

I visited the lovely North Carolina mountains this week to enjoy the fall leaf colors.

Fall leaves in NC.
Fall leaves in NC.

The weather was perfect. The colors were beautiful. We drove over the Linn Cove Viaduct and saw Grandfather Mountain.

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While we were there, one of my parents’ neighbors, Glenda, brought over some cuttings of a plant in her yard.

She wanted to share it with us. She said it was a plant that she had gotten from her aunt.

She called it a Jack-o-Lantern plant. It was the perfect name for these fascinating papery pods.

They are bright orange and resemble Chinese lanterns.

Physalis alkekengi
Physalis alkekengi

The outer husk of the pod is papery with and inner fruit that resembles a tiny orange tomato.

Fruit with the husk pulled back.
Fruit with the husk pulled back.

When you smash the fruit, the inside is sticky with small yellow seeds.

Tiny yellow seeds.
Smashed fruit with tiny yellow seeds.

Other names are Japanese lanterns, Chinese lanterns, winter cherry or bladder cherry.

This herbaceous perennial has white flowers called “Hozuki. ” (I have not seen these yet.)

The calyx around the bloom matures into the lovely orange lantern.

Glenda said this plant’s roots like to spread out, so I will keep it in a contained location.

I am so happy to have such an unusual plant to add to my garden.

I went to a garden shop on the way home. To my surprise, it offered artificial “lantern plants” for arrangements.

artificial latern plants
artificial lantern plants

I felt really pleased to have “the real thing” in the back of my car.

Follow the Flower.

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