I work at a flower shop a few days a week, and every week there's a particular plant that every single customer freaks out about. This week it's the Japanese Lanterns, and I can't say I blame them: they are adorable, and autumnal to boot.
Japanese Lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns, bladder cherries, and winter cherries) are fascinating! They seem to be inflated, like festive balloons, and the "cherry" in the center stays bright orange, even as the husks dry into intricate lace (see the amazing photo here). The cherries are quite sour, chock-full of Vitamin C, and are used in jams, jellies, desserts, and traditional medicines, but the rest of the plant (as well as unripe cherries) are toxic!
• Japanese lanterns are fun to incorporate into an all-orange arrangement, providing height, texture, and whimsy, but I also like them on their own, plopped carelessly yet gracefully in a jar.
• I don't have a lot of experience drying them, but I've found if you buy fresh lanterns and keep them out of water (in a dry vase), the husks will stay bright and the stems will stay strong. Does anyone have any tips?
• If you have a garden- especially a south-facing garden- Taylor Miller of The Herb Companion has some growing tips.
• FruitsInfo has detailed information regarding Japanese lanterns' medicinal uses, as well as two recipes!
• Muza-chan attended the Hozuki Ichi (Chinese Lantern Festival) in Japan a couple of years ago, and her photos are amazing.