Cardiospermum halicacabum seeds

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Cardiospermum halicacabum seeds



Cardispermum halicacabum is also known as the balloon plant or love in a puff. It belongs to family Sapindaceae, Genus Cardiospermum and species C. halicacabum/ its scientific name is therefore Cardiospermum halicacabum. The synonyms are Cardiiospermum corundum L. (1762), Cardiopermum microcarpum Humb. Binpl. & Kunth (1841) and Cardiospermum luridum Blume (1847). The plant originated from Bermudas, Texas and Florida. It grows in the tropical zones and has been distributed to various parts of the world such as Africa, India and South America. It is cultivated in the Philippines and Burma. The plant grows well in a wet climate and on acidic or basic soils. It grows in sunny places such as roadsides, scrub and grassland and forest edges. It can grow from seed or softwood cuttings.


Cardispermum halicacabum is a deciduous plant. The stem grows to a height of 3m in length. The plant is woody and has tendrils that are used for climbing. The plant has serrated compound leaves and the leaflets that are 10cm. It bears flowers that bloom from summer to fall. It also bears grooved stems that form internodes of 5 to 10cm. The plant produces fruits that have the shape of the balloon hence its common name, balloon plant. The fruits are green in colour and brown when mature. They have capsules which are thin-shelled, inflated and angled which measure up to 3cm in diameter. Each fruit has three seeds that have a heart-shaped scar. It bears very small flowers that are white. The flowers are unisexual measuring 2 to 3.5 cm long. It can flower throughout the year except in prolonged periods of drought. The fruits are dispersed by water currents and at times by wind.


The natives ate the seeds and the fruit was roasted and eaten as well. The root has been used medically to treat rheumatism. In areas where it does not grow naturally, it can be invasive and its distribution has been prohibited in some countries. It is therefore advisable to check its growth if growing in a new area. In Kerala, Cardiosperma halicacabun is among the ten Sacred flowers. In a disturbed habitat, Cardispermum halicacabum grows as a weed, especially in riparian zones or wetland areas. The plant contains toxic compounds such as saponins, cyanolipids and cyanogenic glycosides. It is therefore advisable that one seek advice and information before using the plant medically. The plant may cause adverse effects on the human body, especially if consumed in large quantities. 


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