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A hanging Cardiospermum halicacabum stem with white flowers and two golden brown seed capsules
cardiospermum halicacabum
Cardiospermum halicacabum (Balloon Vine,)

Native to subtropical and tropical America, the perennial herbaceous climbing plant, commonly known as Balloon Vine, has made its home in various parts of the world. Its slender stems, which can become lignified at the base, stretch over 10 meters high, entwining themselves around anything they come across. It showcases a zymous inflorescence—a compact cluster of three to seven flowers on a 5 to 9 cm long stem. The functionally unisexual flowers, with their white to yellowish petals, give way to almost spherical or broad pear-shaped capsule fruits, light green "balloons" that turn brown when ripe. A distinctive feature of this plant is the heart-shaped spot on the nearly black, kidney-shaped seeds, encapsulated within the fruit chambers​. Its leaves have found their way into culinary use, deemed edible, and utilized as a herb or spice, as well as a vegetable. The plant's adaptability is showcased by its ability to thrive in cold weather, stretching its green tendrils from west Texas north to Montana and Florida north to Massachusetts. While the leaves and stems offer a culinary delight, it is the roots that have been lauded for their medicinal attributes. Traditionally included in Ayurvedic medicine, they have been used to treat ailments such as rheumatism. Moreover, the leaves have been administered for pulmonic complaints on the Malabar coast, and in homeopathy, parts of the flowering plant are processed into creams and ointments for treating eczematic skin. It's deemed a rampaging weed in certain locales, invading disturbed or waste areas, cropland, pastureland, forests, woodlands, rangelands, and riparian or aquatic habitats. Photographed in the department of Atlántico, Colombia.

Golden brown inflated Cardiospermum halicacabum seed capsules
Golden brown inflated Cardiospermum halicacabum seed capsules under blue sky

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