Alkekengi Species, Chinese Lantern, Strawberry Ground Cherry, Winter Cherry

Alkekengi officinarum var. franchetii

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Alkekengi (al-KEK-en-jee) (Info)
Species: officinarum var. franchetii
Synonym:Physalis franchetii
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)

USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Ferment seeds before storing

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Arley, Alabama

Flagstaff, Arizona

Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Elk Grove, California

Fortuna, California

Georgetown, California

Sacramento, California

Smyrna, Delaware

Daytona Beach, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Summerfield, Florida

Milledgeville, Georgia

Chicago, Illinois

Divernon, Illinois

Galena, Illinois

Glenview, Illinois

Thomasboro, Illinois

Tinley Park, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Farmington, Kentucky

Freedom, Maine

Machias, Maine

Loreto, Marche

Cumberland, Maryland

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Peabody, Massachusetts

Topsfield, Massachusetts

Weymouth, Massachusetts

Dearborn, Michigan

Paris, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Carson City, Nevada

Manchester, New Hampshire

Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Deposit, New York

Eden, New York

Ithaca, New York(2 reports)

Middletown, New York

Ogdensburg, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

South Mills, North Carolina

Mandan, North Dakota

Mcville, North Dakota

Athens, Ohio

Pocola, Oklahoma

Eugene, Oregon

Grants Pass, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Kintnersville, Pennsylvania

Lititz, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Port Matilda, Pennsylvania

Thornton, Pennsylvania

Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

Madison, Tennessee

Dallas, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Farmington, Utah

Hampton, Virginia

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Roanoke, Virginia

Troutville, Virginia

Artondale, Washington

Bremerton, Washington

HEISSON, Washington

Quincy, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Stanwood, Washington

Tacoma, Washington

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 7, 2017, papa1 from Dearborn, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is an interesting plant but was very invasive in my zone 5b garden. It spread like wildfire. I cannot endorse the plant.


On Apr 7, 2016, malsprower from Daytona, FL wrote:

Does not grow here in Florida. Does better as a houseplant here sadly. Was one of my favorite plants to grow up north. Brought back memories.


On Dec 4, 2014, Sequoiadendron4 from Lititz, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I planted this because my wife liked the way the seed pods looked. The plant itself looks like a weed and isn't very attractive prior to the pods 'ripening'. It flops over and the flowers are insignificant. It was in our garden for one season. This spring, I decided not to let it live any longer so I pulled it all out, or so I thought. For a couple months after, I kept pulling out more and, at times, it was several feet from the original location. Finally, I ended up putting Round Up on it every time it popped its head up. That was the end of that. I thought to myself what a nightmare it would have been had I let it go another season. I'm glad it's gone.


On Jun 29, 2014, Clint07 from Bethlehem, PA wrote:

Yes, it's as invasive as the thug Chameleon Plant, but I keep it in one of my flower beds because the orange lanterns provide color late in the season when there's not much else to look at. It's about the last stage of the seasonal succession of ornamental display. I am a lazy gardener, but the many explorers it sends out in all directions are not hard to pull up.


On Feb 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a garden thug here in Boston MA Z6a. It spreads aggressively by a deep rhizome I've never been able to dig out. It can also self-sow. It's always popping up where I least want it, generally in the middle of a perennial I care about.

The leaves are always tattered and full of holes---something is always eating it, though I don't know if it's an insect or slug. Some insect often skeletonizes the only ornamental part of the plant---the husk---in my garden.

This isn't considered an invasive threat to natural habitat anywhere I know of, but it's not what I'd consider an attractive or neighborly garden plant.

It can be eradicated by repeated treatment with 2% glyphosate.

All parts of this plant are highly toxic if ingested due t... read more


On May 18, 2013, SSGJ from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

The previous owners of our house planted these around the perimeter of our yard. They were beautiful until...we have been here three years and they are putting a stranglehold on everything in the yard. They grow straight through everything else and things are so tangled and crazy that you cannot tell which plant the branches are coming from. Its horrible. I agree with the other post that wouldn't wish these on anyone. We have spent days cutting them back and trying to get our orange and grapefruit trees out of their clutches. DO NOT PLANT!!!!! There are pages and pages about this plant online that don't mention how wicked they are. WHY OH WHY?!!!


On May 15, 2013, katpages from Thornton, PA wrote:

Although beautiful, it is highly invasive. Today I spent 2 hours pulling the runners. It is crossing my pathway and heading to the neighbors! I am actually neutral, because it is so wonderful in the fall, but someday, when I am gone, it will take over. Fortunately, it is in a round "wilderness garden" with other hardies...common Day Lilies, Red Raspberries, Lemon Verbena, Thistle-"something", violets, etc. Mowing around it keeps it from too much migration. I marked it negative so that others would read. BEWARE where!!!


On Apr 7, 2012, grassroot from South Elgin, IL wrote:

Wanted to get info on how to get my chinese lanterns to ripen.
Get lots of green lanterns but usually don't ripen. See lots of
hints on how to cultivate. Thanks


On Oct 10, 2011, piper4949 from Monroe, WI wrote:


If you plan to bury a pot of Chinese Lantern, MAKE SURE that there is not a drain hole in it. The rhizomes will escape through it and they will take over your garden.

Good luck, piper


On Sep 30, 2011, susanpanse from Mechanicstown, NY wrote:

My plants do not turn orange. Can anyone advise? Thank you.


On Jul 9, 2011, evelyngrace from HEISSON, WA wrote:

I experimented a few times with growing these plants from seed. The first time I did nothing fancy, and almost tossed the seeds right into a flat just to see what happened. I had no germination.
For the second try, I scarified the seeds by rolling over the packet with a rolling pin a good few times (I was pretty rough on them), and I soaked them in warm water for about three days.
The main thing that helped was some heat. About that time we started to get the first warm and sunny days of spring, and the greenhouse heated up to about 90 degrees (at regular intervals). At that time, almost all of the Second Try seeds came up, and ONE tiny pathetic plant appeared from the first. So, the heat seemed to contribute the most.

Hope this helps!


On Jun 21, 2011, thetripscaptain from Durango, CO wrote:

One seed in the garden has produced a lateral root system that I will never get rid of lol. As everyone said above this is really invasive due to its root system. These are coming up in the lawn next to the flower bed, so the lateral roots of Physalis are obviously strong enough to push through grass roots.

It's not a terribly attractive plant either, for most of the season. Only the orange seed pods are attractive. The flowers are like pepper flowers, and the leaves are like any other weedy nightshade.

Does not do good in containers because it needs to root.


On Oct 10, 2010, fbull66 from Manchester, NH (Zone 5b) wrote:

full strength weed killer and diesel fuel .....mixture of 50 50 .....i had got the receipt from a friend because its the only thing that will kill poison sumac need to cut the plant in the morning and just put it on the cut stems.....the diesel is a catalyst and will deliver the weed killer just need to cover the stems not the soil ........


On Oct 5, 2010, CDP from Rochester, NY wrote:

Physalis,or Cape Gooseberry are edible.Do not mix it up with the many varieties of this plant because some are poisonous.Make sure that what you have is Physalis or cape Gooseberry.
This plant's fruits are a delicacy in France and Latin America. It is often used in desserts and as garnish. A friend of mine recently used it as garnish for her daughter's baby shower.It is very common in Brazil (I'm Brazilian).

for more information go to this site :


On Aug 15, 2010, sagebrush123 from Lexington, NC wrote:

Hi There,
A friend of mine gave me this plant 3 years ago, about 10 of them, The first year they bloomed and were wonderful, I loved them, Now 3 years later, I hate them, They come up every where and I have pulled them up, used diffferent weed killers, they have taken over my flower bed under ground. If any one knows how to get rid of these CHINEESE JACK O LANTERNS Please E-mail me!!!!


On May 30, 2010, bjt1t2t3 from Harris, MN wrote:

If only I had known... My grandmother had Chinese Lanterns in her garden when I was a very young child. I thought these flowers were so wonderful when I was young, that I decided to plant ONE Chinese Lantern plant in my Butterfly Garden. HUGE HUGE HUGE MISTAKE!!! I only wish I would have researched this plant BEFORE I planted it!!! Had I known it was EXTREMELY INVASIVE, I would NEVER have planted it! From one plant a year ago, this plant has now taken over my Butterfly Garden and I CANNOT get rid of it!!!! I have tried everything to get rid of this invasion plant, yet it keeps growing! I worked so hard on my Butterfly Garden to choose just the right plants and make it a beautiful garden -- and now I have this horrible plant to deal with!!!! It has literally taken over the garden an... read more


On May 17, 2010, oosa from Northbrook, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

very invasive!!! DO NOT plant in the ground. It is taking over my entire yard, and several planters. IMPOSSIBLE to get rid off by pulling, or turning soil. It sends very deep runners, much deeper than any edging, then each runner sends up hundreds of shoots up from 1.5 feet deep. I am so concerned it will choke out all of my plants. I am very heartbroken...


On Jan 30, 2010, anjay from Beaverton, OR wrote:

is the chinese lantern plant the same as the poha fruit i've seen in hawaii?


On May 21, 2009, lehua_mc from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Not sure who planted this, but sure enough, it is growing like an invasive weed in both my neighbors' and my side yards. Their part is popping up in a pea gravel extension of their driveway, and so far they don't seem hell bent on getting rid of it. It's growing along our fence line and into the grass on my side. I can mow mine down if so desired, but I (also??) feel rather benign about it. I have a skeleton of a seed pod from last year as a cherished memento, go figure.


On May 20, 2009, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Not that I want to encourage anyone to plant this bully, just wanted to answer a question here. In Paris I had a lovely cocktail garnished with a strange fruit encased in a paper lantern. I've since realized it was this fruit. They called it a "Cockie". It was a very mild tasting cherry like fruit. I ripped this out of my garden for 3 years and tried many chemicals on it. So far it's not appeared this year. Maybe the very frozen winter eliminated it. I never planted it, a seed must have come in from some nursery pot. It popped up in a 6 foot radius despite constant pulling and twice completely digging and changing all of the soil.


On Nov 6, 2008, kloverz13 from Portland, OR wrote:

I dug up a part of my grandmother's Chinese Lantern from her yard in Nevada. I moved to Oregon to an apartment upstairs and want to continue growing them but it has to be by pot. Can anyone suggest anything to keep this plant alive? I have it indoors right now, but it seems as though they might do ok in my covered sun room/patio. It gets cold in there, but I think it's a little more sheltered than being left outside. I just want some info on how to keep them growing. It rains here on a constant, should I keep them in their pots and put them outside? Keep them in the sun room? Or just keep it inside? any info will help. THANKS!


On Jul 30, 2008, donicaben from Ogdensburg, NY wrote:

Bought seeds for this off of eBay. The seeds probably weren't all that great. I tried to start about 30 of them in peat pellets and only ten sprouted. After transplanting them only two survived (and are now flowering). I honestly hope that they're as invasive as some claim because they're in an area that's overrun with creeping charlie.

I'd much rather have these.

I will let the little lanterns fall to the ground this fall and wintersow. Looking forward to having them around my porch. :-)


On May 21, 2007, gardenbugde from Smyrna, DE (Zone 7a) wrote:

I got this plant 2 summers ago from a lady friend. She had a patch of it and although she had dug it up, little shoots continued to pop up- and her husband would just mow them off! LOL I put mine in a big pot and it was wonderful. I got a lot of lanterns to dry and display. The second year, they didn't produce as many lanterns and I was bummed. They didn't even come up this year... I figure they may have gotten too wet over the winter. I have a window box with some in it that did survive the winter and they're coming up nicely.

These are extremely easy to start from cuttings! Just snip a stalk and root it in water. I've grown from seed too, but they do take a little longer.

VERY INVASIVE if you plant in the ground- you will never completely get rid of them. ... read more


On May 11, 2006, Amphibian from Royal Tunbridge Wells,
United Kingdom wrote:

According to Plants for a Future database, physalis alkekengi are edible!


On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This took over an entire flowerbed, even coming up between bricks in a small sitting area. I went through and meticulously picked it out, but everywhere I left a bit of root, it came back. Maybe in poorer soil it wouldn't have been so bad, but I don't like things that send out shoots everywhere. Bugs also seemed to be a problem with it, as the leaves had lots of little holes in them. I tried it in a pot, but it didn't do very well. I might try it again, but not in an area that it can run free. Other names include Chinese Lanterns, Strawberry Tomato, and Winter Cherry.


On Jul 31, 2005, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have read in a couple of books that this plant does well potted, which would eliminate the need to constantly weed it out of your garden. This is the route I am going, and so far so good. The little plants grew quickly once they sprouted, and it looks as though they will need bigger pots soon. I am thinking of planting them INSIDE a sturdy container, then planting the container in the ground, much the same way you would for bamboo to keep it from getting out of control. Hopefully that works, and I dont end up with a menace on my hands. Really I just want the branches and lanterns for drying, so hopefully I get my wish!


On Oct 2, 2004, ANDISTARBUCK from Corning, CA wrote:



On Oct 1, 2004, blondemommyof2 from Lititz, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

i liked the way it looked so i bought some seeds but i didn't know it could be poisonus anyhow i found out it's only poisonus if the berries aren't ripe a site says you can cook or eat the ripe berrys so i'm not sure how all of that is i am not eating it though! just looks nice.. and i still like it


On Jun 26, 2004, NatureWalker from New York & Terrell, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Mine are growing from seed (the whole lanterns) that I took in last fall; in late October. They dried completely; I neglected to take them in off the front porch, as it was bitterly cold outside; down to -35 on some days (I'm up in the mountain zone.) There they stayed in a plastic flower pot with nothing in it; till I remembered them in April. I took them and crammed them into one pot 8 inch by 6 inch, (10-12 of them) with soil underneath and on top. They have arisen as if nothing happened. I'm glad I took them now; as we had to move mid-winter; in February and March. I will post a picture of them soon.


On Oct 23, 2003, ecobotanist from Plymouth, CA wrote:

Caution should be exercised with Physalis: there are some 80 species; and, they are very often confused. Many people lump them together as ground cherries; but, this could get you into trouble. The toxins in the fruit are rendered safe by cooking; and, ripe fruit is safe. The calyces are toxic; so, be certain to clean the fruit thoroughly. Gastroenteritis is the most likely consequence of making an error. The ever popular tomatillo is one of these plants.

In summary, I enjoy the fruit; but, I have to be careful about others (pets, livestock) eating the unripe fruit. Adverse: these really are aggressive, weedy plants.


On Oct 19, 2003, maggiestarbuck wrote:

My sister-in-law just gave me a bowl full of the lanterns and I see the little cherries inside.


On Oct 12, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is known as Florida Ground Cherry in Florida.

It is so invasive that once it shows up in your yard, total elimination becomes a continuous, monumental but imposible task.

This and its cousin Physalis peruviana (Cape Gooseberry or Goldenberry), have escaped any and all types of control earning a nickname "Escape Artist".

It appears however, that what Gloriana has is the Physalis peruviana and NOT the Physalis alkekengi. Her description of the color and the taste clearly direct us towards the Cape Gooseberry, a fruit highly prized by the Portuguese. And that is why it is routinely sold in Portuguese markets.

Final verification can come from her local Goanese (Indians from Goa of Portuguese ancestry) population. Their name fo... read more


On Oct 11, 2003, gloriana wrote:

Today, after 9 1/2 autumns of enjoying looking at the Chinese Lanterns in our garden, a neighbour told me that the ground cherry is a delicacy in the Portuguese community. For the first time, I opened a lantern and tasted the bright red fruit. It was sweet and hopefully not poisonous.

What is missing (or what I missed) from the description on your site is more information about the red fruit and the confirmation that it is indeed edible. What a pleasant surprise to find the hopefully edible fruit!

Our lanternplants have been very aggressive and have taken over about 2/3 of a bed while I wasn't looking. We have done nothing to amend the soil; benevolent neglect is the type of gardening we practise. I live in Dundas, Ontario, Canada which is part of the Greater ... read more


On Sep 7, 2001, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Papery orange lanterns appear in late summer and are excellent in fresh and dried arrangements.