The Chinese lanterns suit their French name better now – amour en cage, or love in a cage.


The papery ‘lanterns’ which give the plant its common English name have dried and weathered to leave just the skeleton.  Inside the cage the bright red fruit is the heart of the matter.

One by one the skeleton lanterns are breaking away from the stems and, caught by the wind, they roll away along the garden paths.  These strange fruiting bodies may look purely decorative but serve a practical function in seed dispersal.