Brixton Flower Watch: Chinese Lantern

Welcome to Brixton Flower Club’s weekly flower spotting! Each month we will choose one road or area in Brixton, provide you with a weekly post on something beautiful that we spot and tell you a bit more about it. This month, we’re at Blenheim Gardens. Thank you to all the local gardeners who work so hard to add some colour and nature to Brixton’s streets.

Location: Blenheim Gardens

Week 2: Physelis Alkekengi

Common name: Chinese Lantern

chinese lantern

You are probably used to seeing these Chinese Lanterns at a different stage of their lives when they have their bright orange almost paper-like covering. This lantern is actually the seed pod of the plant. At this time of year the lantern shell dries revealing the small red fruit within. The fruit is used in some traditional medicine and is edible – although not very tasty! The lantern shell and other parts of the plant are poisonous.

The lanterns are excellent for drying and using in long lasting floral arrangements. Simply cut off a stem of lanterns and remove all the leaves. Then leave the stem to dry in a cool and airy location.

In Japan an annual market is dedicated to the plant and the seeds are used as part of the ‘Bon Festival’ as offerings to guide the spirits of the dead.