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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 14 | Solanaceae | Alkekengi

1. Alkekengi officinarum Moench, Suppl. Meth. 177. 1802.
[F I W]

Coqueret alkékenge

Physalis alkekengi Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 183. 1753

Stems 2.5–9 dm. Leaves: peti­ole 0.6–4.4 cm; blade broadly ovate, (4–)6–11 × (2.5–)4–8.5 cm, margins entire or irreg­ularly dentate. Flowering pedi­cels 9–13 mm. Flowers: calyx 4–7 mm, lobes 2–3.5 mm, tomen­tose; corolla 10–15 mm; anthers yellow, 2.5–3 mm. Fruiting pedicels 20–40 mm. Berries red, 1 cm diam., enclosed in papery, orange-red to bright red calyx, 3–5.5 × 2.5–4.5 cm. 2n = 24.

Flowering Jun–Aug. Fence rows, thickets, vacant lots, cemeteries, roadsides, railroad tracks, stream banks; 0–600 m; introduced; B.C., Man., N.B., Ont., Que.; Conn., Del., Idaho, Ill., Iowa, Maine, Md., Mass., N.Y., Pa., Tenn., Vt., W.Va.; Eurasia; introduced also in Australia.

Early herbals mention the winter-cherry as a diuretic and a treatment for gout; it is used as a febrifuge in China. The ripe berries are edible. In the flora area, Alkekengi officinarum is most often cultivated as an ornamental. Stems with inflated, orange-red or bright red fruiting calyces are used in floral arrangements. The dried calyces maintain their color for long periods in bouquets. Escaped plants can spread aggressively via rhizomes, and specimen data indicate reproduction and dispersal by seed.

In its native range, two varieties of Alkekengi officinarum are recognized: var. officinarum and var. franchetii (Masters) R. J. Wang. Plants in the flora area, derived from cultivation and likely from multiple sources, may exhibit characteristics of both on a single specimen.


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