Are Chinese lanterns edible?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by zealot, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    I read about the plant called Chinese lanterns in a seed catalog, and noticed that the scientific name is Physalis alkekengi. This puts it in the same genus as tomatillos, ground cherries, and cape gooseberries. Therefore I wondered, does the perennial Chinese lantern bear an edible fruit? In the picture I saw some fruits that looked like Cape gooseberries, but no indication as to whether or not they are edible. (And with nightshades like this, you've got to make sure!)
     
  2. IowaLez

    IowaLez Glowing in The Sun Supporter

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    As far as I know (I'm a certified Master Gardener here in CA), Chinese lanterns are not edible. I've never seen even a single reference to anyone ever eating them. Deadly nightshade is edible, when the berries are ripe. Otherwise it's poisonous. I wouldn't try eating the lanterns.
     

  3. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    I think I have seen them labeled as posonous, but whether this is actually true, I don't know. I do know that I have never, ever seen them advertised as being even remotely edible to any species at all (even birds).
     
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    All ripe physalis fruit are edible. Some, in the case of Chinese lantern, are simply too small or tasteless to be useful. Unripe fruit should be considered as toxic. That includes the common ground cherry that many of us grow and enjoy.

    Martin
     
  5. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    I wonder if Chinese lanterns could be crossbred with ground cherry or tomatillo to obtain a plant with the perennial nature of the Chinese lantern, but the nutritional value and eating safety of the tomatillo or ground cherry.
     
  6. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Ground cherries and tomatillos are already perennial. Their native ranges are Central and South America where there is nothing to kill or eat them!

    Martin
     
  7. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    I mean perennial in temperate climates with snow and frost.