Is it a Chinese Lantern or a Wild Cape Gooseberry?

Has anyone seen this plant before?

I am not sure whether it’s Chinese Lantern or Cape Gooseberry  or Wild Gooseberry plants until I read more about it in Google.

My neighbour brought back a few wild plants after her visit to her hometown,Kota Belud. These plants are not easy to find in Kota Kinabalu any more. She gave one to me. I didn’t know the name of the plant, but I remembered it as a child, I enjoyed eating the fruits from this kind of plant. In those days they were easily found in the jungle, Now the area is well developed, Trees were cut, roads were built and buildings were made. The jungle had quickly disappeared, so were the wild berries and animals. Later, big monsoon drains were all over the place.

When I posted the photo of this plant to all my friends, I managed to get a few names from it. One friend, who was an ex lecturer from the university, gave me the scientific name, physalis angulata or physalis nahaufnahme, while another friend who sells plants said it’s  Cape gooseberry.  With the names of the plant, it was easier for me to google in details about them.

These wild berries have many names by the locals. The Dusun called it Lapak Lapak, while the Kadazan called it Kalapakon. The Chinese called it Pak Zai and in Tamil,it’s Dappa palam. Whether its the Chinese Lantern or Cape gooseberry , it’s definately a Physalis.

Like me, most of my friends ate them before, when they were kids and have the same review as me, that the fruits were tasty. Some played with it, by “banging” the berries on their forehead, just to hear the ‘pop’ sound.😲 A few of them said,their grand parents boiled the whole plants for medicinal purposes, especially those who stayed deep in the jungle, out of reach for medical care and facilities.

With Mr Google, I manage to find out the differences of these 3 plants.

  Cape gooseberry(Physalis peruviana) 
 – yellow flower has 5 dark blotches at the base of the corolla.
– fruit has nice taste.
– pale brown husk surrounding the fruit  
– annual and short term perennial  plant
– unripe fruits and leaves may be toxic

Chinese Lantern(Physalis alkekengi)
– white flower has has no markings on the corolla .
– fruit has bright orange red colour and it’s tasteless. 
– bright orange husk surrounding the fruit.
– Hardy perennial plant .
Unripe fruits and leaves are highly toxic.

Wild Cape gooseberry(Physalis minima)
– yellow flower has 5 dark blotches at the base of the corolla.
– fruits are primrose color with a sweet, pleasant taste.
 – light brown husk surrounding the fruit .
– annual herbaceous plant .
– Plants are bitter (medical purpose)but the fruits are juicy with a pleasant sweet taste.

 Research shows that the Wild Cape gooseberry  plant has anti-cancerous properties, anti-diabetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and other wide ethno medicinal uses.

                     When  I read the blog of Sarawakiana@2 ,  the village folks in MiriSarawak use these plants to control high blood pressure and the flowers as tea for headache remedies.

Wild Cape Gooseberry

5 dark blotches at the base of the corolla.

 pale brown husk surrounding the fruit when matured

 Light brown husk surrounding the fruit . Pale yellowish colour fruits

Wild Cape goose berry (P. Minima) fruit, colour is primrose (pale yellow) with taste of mild bitter sweet . The plants are edible and can be used for medicinal purposes.

Difference between cape goose berry ( P. Peruviana) and a wild cape goose berry (P. Minima) : P. Peruviana fruit is yellowish orange in colour with taste of sweet sour. They are edible but unripe fruits and the plants may be toxic.

Cape Gooseberry fruits are popular as decorations on cakes and desserts

Photo of a dessert, taken by a friend while holidaying in Europe



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