Love in a puff
Cardiospermum halicacabum

The combination of Cardiospermum halicacabum's balloon-like fruits, and seeds marked with hearts, gives this species its common name, "love in a puff". Native to tropical America, this vine has tiny white flowers and is also known as balloon plant. Every part of this plant has medicinal properties and can be used for the treatment of a wide range of ailments including digestive disorders, rheumatism and snakebites.

Originating from Tropical America, Cardiospermum halicacabum is a scrambling deciduous vine growing up to 3 m long. It is not the flowers that are showy but rather the inflated seed capsules, which give it the common names ‘love in a puff’ or ‘balloon vine’.

The tiny white flowers stand in rolls on long flower stems of 5 to 10 cm in length. The capsules have three compartments, each one containing a single black spherical seed. The seed is fixed to its compartment by a small attachment, and as this breaks, it leaves behind a white heart shaped mark on the seed.

Seed facts:

  • The white heart-shaped mark on the seed is from where it attaches to the seed capsule
  • The name is a Latinisation of the Greek: kardia meaning heart, and sperma meaning seed

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