The combination of Cardiospermum halicacabum's balloon like fruits, and seeds marked with hearts, gives this species its common name, "Heart Seed Vine" or “Love in a Puff”.
Originating from Tropical America, Cardiospermum halicacabum is a scrambling deciduous vine growing up to 9 Ft long. It is not the flowers that are showy but rather the inflated seed capsules.
The tiny white flowers stand in rolls on long flower stems of 2-4” Inches in length. The capsules have three compartments, each one containing a single black spherical seed. The seed is fixed to its compartment by a small attachment, and as this breaks, it leaves behind a white heart shaped mark on the seed.
Every part of this plant has medicinal properties and can be used for the treatment of a wide range of ailments. Aboriginal people used Balloon Vine in the treatment of rheumatism, nervous diseases, stiffness of the limbs and snakebite. Leaves were crushed and made into a tea for itchy skin. Young leaves can be cooked as vegetables. The leaf juice has been used as a treatment for earache.
The balloon vine will flower in midsummer and the seeds will be ripen in the fall. Seeds can be direct seeded in the spring after the last frost, or it can be started inside about 8 weeks before the frosts end. It's an annual in all areas except those in zone 9 and 10.