|Photo of balloonplant with capsules|
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Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as balloonplant, balloon cotton-bush, bishop's balls or swan plant, is a species of milkweed. The plant is native to southeast Africa, but it has been widely naturalized. It is often used as an ornamental plant. The name "balloonplant" is an allusion to the swelling bladder-like pods which are full of seeds.
Gomphocarpus physocarpus is an undershrub perennial herb, that can grow to over six feet. The plant blooms in warm months. It grows on roadside banks, at elevations of 2800 to 5000 feet above sea level. The plant prefers moderate moisture, as well as sandy and well-drained soil and full sun.
The flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1 cm across. The capsule is a pale green, and in shape an inflated sphere. It is covered with rough hairs. It reaches three inches in diameter. The leaves are light green, linear to lanceolate and 3 to 4 inches long, 1.2 cm broad. The seeds have silky tufts.
The plant is a food source for the caterpillars of Danaus butterflies, and is a specific Monarch butterfly food and habitat plant. It is also popular in traditional medicine to cure various ailments.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
- Llamas, Kirsten Albrecht (2003). Tropical Flowering Plants: A Guide to Identification and Cultivation. Timber Press. p. 73. ISBN 0-88192-585-3.
- Iremonger,, Susan (2002). A Guide to the Plants of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The University of West Indies Press. p. 47. ISBN 976-640-031-8.
- Gurib-Fakim, A. (2011). "Gomphocarpus fruticosus (L.) W.T.Aiton". In Schmelzer, G.H.; Gurib-Fakim, A. Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA.
- van Wyk, Ben-Erik; Wink, Michael (2004). Medicinal Plants of the World: an illustrated scientific guide to important plants and their uses. Timber Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-88192-602-7.
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