Balloon Plant or Love in a Puff
Better known as the 'Balloon Plant' or 'Love in a Puff' due to the shape of its fruits, this climbing vine is widely distributed across Africa, Australia and North America.
Reaching up to 8m long or high if given adequate climbing space, it has alternate, toothed leaves around 4cm long and slightly hairy. The vine itself is many branched, with forked tendrils.
The flowers are small and white, around 4mm long, but the real star is the fruits, which appear as inflated, balloon-shaped capsules, light green but maturing to brown, and can float on water.
Known in India as one of the "Ten Sacred Flowers of Kerala", it is used to treat a variety of ailments including rheumatism, snake bites, and skin conditions. Please contact a GP before using in a medicinal context.
Frost tender to around 5°C, it can be grown as an annual in areas that reach this temperature, but considered an evergreen perennial in other areas.