This cool little herbaceous perennial plant is called Physalis alkekengi. Due to its paper like appearance, it also commonly referred to as a Chinese or Japanese lantern. This plant blooms during the winter months and then dries in spring. Once it has dried out, the outer skin resembles a thin mesh and inside the bright red fruit can now be seen.


Images from wikicommons


Saponins are a category of organic chemical compounds that occur naturally in various plants and marine lifeforms. Their functions appear to vary from species to species, and are not very well understood in general. Saponins do have amphiphilic/amphipathic properties, meaning they are attracted to both water and fat (at different ends of the molecule), and they produce a soapy foam when added to water and shaken.

In some plant species, saponins appear to act as a defense against fungi and microbes, and even produce a bitter taste that discourages hungry herbivores. Saponins can also be toxic to other organisms in certain conditions, and Asterosaponin-1 is an example of such, being one of the toxins produced by the Crown-of-Thorns starfish, which is one of the only known venomous starfish species in the world.

Posting this a day late because it just took so bloody long to finish. It was nice to have Sulfur and Sodium back in play though.

Indian pipes (monotropa uniflora)

Indian pipes, ghost pipes, corpse plant, or ghost plant? Whatever you know this plant as, it remains to be a curious specimen. This herbaceous plant is often mistaken for some kind of fungi, but is in fact a flowering plant. As its name implies, each stem has a single flower head with semi-transparent petals. This plant never ceases to amaze me! 👻👻👻