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|Detail photo of balloonplant capsules|
Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as hairy balls, balloonplant, balloon cotton-bush, bishop's balls, nailhead, 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.
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.
Gomphocarpus physocarpus is traditionally used to produce ointments for the treatment of warts and the seeds are used in rituals. The leaves and stems produce milky latex that is toxic, yet it has never been described in detail particularly with regards to the anatomy of lactiferous cells
The flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1 cm across. The follicle is a pale green, and in shape an inflated spheroid. 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 brown seeds have silky tufts.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
- Munsamy, A., & Naidoo, Y. (2017). Characterisation of the indumentum and the laticifers in the leaves and stems of Gomphocarpus physocarpus (Apocynaceae). South African Journal of Botany, 109, 356–357. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2017.01.134
- 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. (eds.). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA.
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