Chinese lanterns’ colour

(Question)

Hello – I’ve been wondering whether Chinese lanterns will continue to turn orange after the stem has been picked.

I want to pick them before frost but many of the seed pods are still pale or even green.

Can you tell me if they’ll continue to “ripen” after being cut?
Many thanks!

(Answer)

Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) do make lovely decorations, but unfortunately yours will not continue to turn their striking orange-red after being picked. While even the green pericarps (which are the “lanterns”) are attractive in their way, be aware, if you have young children, that the immature green fruit inside could cause gastric distress if eaten. The ripened fruit is edible, however, and related to tomatillos.