Physalis is a genus or group of herbaceous plants belonging to the solanaceae (nightshade) family, related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Chinese lantern, Physalis alkekengi, grows to two feet tall and bears small, white flowers. The hardy Physalis alkekengi has small fruits but is most popular for its large, bright orange to red husks.
The Chinese lantern plant is valued for its inflated orange-red seed coverings which resemble miniature Chinese lanterns. For winter bouquets, cut the stems in fall just as the lanterns turn color, remove the leaves and hang them, right side up, to dry in a shady, airy place. Perennial. Hardy to Zone 2-9.
Other Names: Winter Cherry, Strawberry groundcherry, Ground Cherry, Chinese Lantern, Bladder cherry. Syn: Physalis francheti, Physalis latifolia, Fall ornamental plant