Nicandra Physaloides is known as the Shoo-fly Plant because it can, reputedly, repel white fly.
It is an annual with dramatic black stems, which can grow to 4 foot high, from seeds sown in spring or early summer. Our specimens have not grown to that size this year as they do like plenty of water early in their growing period. They can sometimes appear spontaneously, especially around bird tables as the seeds are occasionally found in bird feed mixtures.
The attractive purple and white flowers are borne a few at a time from June to October, but the really dramatic aspect of the plant is the appearance of the seeds, which are enclosed in black and light green lantern shaped pods. These stay on the plant until frost browns the plant in late autumn and are attractive in flower arrangements or dried for use as Christmas decorations, especially if sprayed gold or silver.
It is a native of Peru, but grows readily here and once introduced usually self seeds. They were grown in Crescent Garden several years ago, but have not been seen for 2 or 3 years and to every one’s delight have reappeared this year.