Friday, November 21, 2008

physalis minima (family name: solansceae)

i came across this shrub with a lantern shaped fruit casing growing in the wild by the side of the road that leads to the yet-to-be-opened dairy farm nature reserve. i have been wondering what its name is.

normally, i would use google images to help me find a similar picture by using key words like 'plant' + 'lantern fruit'. this time around, i have got an additional aid - '1001 garden plants in singapore', a nparks publication.

viola! i found it on page 368 of the thick book. with the correct name, i am able to obtain more information about this plant on the internet.

physalis(cape gooseberries, chinese lanterns) are annuals or short-lived perennials, more or less hairy. the flowers are bell-shaped, but the most distinctive feature is the fruiting calyx which enlarges to cover the fruit and hangs downwards like a lantern. one species, p. minima(wild gooseberry), is widespread across tropical america, asia and africa, and occurs in all australian states. it is a smooth, branching herb with ovate leaves, small pale yellow flowers and a 3cm long lantern enclosing the yellow fruit.

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