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The help that man needs to cure his illnesses and his illnesses can also be found in simple field herbs. Among the humble stubble, among the forgotten woodland plants nature hides its best remedies for the well-being and health of individuals. Almost all medicinal plants act on the kidneys, since the diuretic action enhanced by the water contained in the teas produces a significant increase in the amount of urine. The alchechengi is extremely diuretic, this property facilitates the elimination of waste substances, contributing to the cleaning of the blood and to the purification of the whole organism. Uric acid and urea are among the most toxic substances that our intestines produce continuously and must be eliminated by urine. The plants that facilitate the elimination of these metabolism residues are numerous and very effective, because they increase the solubility of mineral salts, hindering the formation of urinary calculi. The alchechengi is able to dissolve urinary calculi if they were formed and not only, in addition to the waste substances, the urine also conveys the active ingredients of this plant, which possessing an antiseptic action fights very effectively the infections of the plant. whole urinary tract.
Physalis alkekengi and Peruvian physalis
The genus physalis is very broad and includes more than 80 species originating in Europe, Asia and the American continent. All are part of the great family of Solanaceae and are therefore closely related to tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and potatoes.
In our country the most widespread are some varieties cultivated purely for the decorative purpose of physalis alkekengi. In autumn they fructify spectacularly and lend themselves to drying and creating compositions for home decoration, to be exhibited during the winter months. Their fruits, however, have a very acid taste and, although they are edible, they are very unpleasant.
For this purpose, another species is cultivated, the Peruvian physalis. The crop cycle is very similar to that of the tomato. The "lanterns" it produces do not take on spectacular colors, but the fruit contained is decidedly sweeter and this is why it is highly sought after by the confectionery industry.
Both products are valuable from the health point of view because they are an excellent source of vitamins.
PHYSALIS IN BRIEF
|Type of plant||Annuals (Peruvian) or Perennials (Alkekengi)|
|Ground||Indifferent, better rich and read. clay|
The plant Physalis alkekengi commonly called alchechengi it is part of the Solanaceae family such as potato and tomato. It reaches up to 1 meter in height. The flowers are white with the characteristic bell shape and appear on the plant in July and August. The fruit is an orange or red berry, as big as a cherry, covered with a scarlet red calyx that swells forming a kind of bladder similar to a small lantern. The leaf is oval and about 8 cm long. Unfortunately, like the rhizome, the leaf is also poisonous because it contains solanine and if ingested it causes vomiting, headache and diarrhea. The parts used are the fruits (berries). The berries are the only edible part of the plant. Its flavor is similar to that of raspberry. Also in the kitchen, the alchechengi finds different uses, in fact from the berries you get a good jam, you can eat in addition to salads, or you can keep them in brine or in vinegar. It is a plant of Asian rigine, which grows in central and southern Europe as well as in the temperate regions of Central and South America. It is infrequent, but is sometimes found on the edge of vineyards and woods. The alchechengi prefers a temperate climate, it can live up to 10 years, it is also resistant to drought, its ideal habitat is a moist soil and an exposure to the shade.
Features Physalis alkekengi
It is a very rustic perennial plant probably originating from Southeast Asia, although today it is naturalized in many parts of the world.
It develops through collated roots and for this reason, in the short term, it manages to spread and occupy a rather large area. The stems are not very branched and range in height from 20 to 80 cm depending on the specific variety. Initially they have an erect habit, but as the season progresses they become more prostrate. The leaves, equipped with petiole, are medium green, oval, deciduous. The axillary flowers are white, in mid-summer, rather insignificant. In autumn they evolve into fruits surrounded by a bright orange “cage”, long and up to 5 cm wide. Its shape is very similar to that of Chinese lanterns, and from this comes the popular nickname. As the season progresses, only the ribs remain and you can see the fruit inside, a red-orange round berry.
Cultivation Physalis alkekengi
The cultivation of the "Chinese lantern" is very simple. It is in fact a very tolerant plant.
Land and exposure
The alchechengi adapts to almost all soils, even the poor ones or those with a very bad texture. In any case, it particularly likes rich and slightly humid soils and slightly sunny exposures (in the South the luminous shadow is better).
Sowing, propagation and planting
Sowing takes place indoors, at the end of March or outdoors when 20 ° C is reached during the day. After about a month from germination thinning can be carried out.
If we already have the plant, we can also proceed with the division, at the end of winter. The ideal is to work when you see the first sprouts appear. The clod is extracted and divided into parts, leaving for each a few roots. We replant by covering with at least 10 cm of earth. We leave at least 80 cm between one specimen and another.
It is a potentially very invasive plant. If we want to limit its growth it is good to immediately insert metal or plastic resistant barriers into the ground, up to at least 35 cm deep.
Cape gooseberry can also be kept in large pots with a rather clayey substrate and good drainage at the bottom.
To have a vigorous growth it is good not to skimp the irrigation. The soil must always be slightly damp.
To encourage flowering and fruiting, it is useful to distribute a liquid fertilizer with a high potassium content every 15 days, from March to September. Tomato products are very suitable.
The stems tend to take a slow growth over time. If we want to avoid it, it is good to immediately put tutors to link them. The hazel branches are very beautiful for this use.
The ideal is to put this plant in the last row in the borders: for almost all the vegetative period it has, in fact, an uninteresting aspect and it is good to surround it with other flower essences.
At the end of autumn we can decide whether to let it dry (it will still be very decorative when the winter frost appears) or cut the stems to create dry compositions.
Creation of compositions
The stems are harvested at the end of summer, when the lanterns become orange. They are dried upside down, in the shade, in a cool and airy environment.
Sheltered from the sun and dust, this composition can last for several years. The pairing with the annual lunaria (the Pope's coin) is very beautiful.
SPECIES AND VARIETIES
|SPECIES||FLOWERS AND FRUITS||HEIGHT AND WIDTH||OTHER CHARACTERISTICS|
|Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii||Very large orange lanterns||Up to 60 cm|| Originally from Japan|
Very acid fruits
|Physalis peruviana (sin. P. edulis)|| Yellow fruit, first green then beige.|
Fruit diameter about 1 cm
| Up to 1.50 m x 1|
Large bush with erect branches, heart-shaped leaves, tomentose
|Perennial for hot climates, annual in Italy|
|Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia (sin. P. pruinosa)|| Fruits smaller than Peruvian, but maturing faster (60 days). Small, yellow-orange berries.|
You have to wait a few weeks after the harvest because they lose the bitter aftertaste
|Height up to 60 cm x 100 in width.|| Annual plant, very suitable for Northern Italy, abundant and fast production.|
It spreads easily and can become invasive.
|Physalis ixocarpa||Very large fruit, up to 7 cm in diameter, from green to purple||Height up to 2 m||Annual, suitable for the production of compotes|