Platycodon grandiflorus (Jacq.) A. DC.
Platycodon grandiflorum (Jacq.) A. DC. orth. var.
Balloon Flower, Chinese Bellflower, Japanese Bellflower
Although related to bellflowers, balloon flowers are the only members of the genus Platycodon, meaning “broad bell.” The name “balloon flower” comes from the appearance of the unopened flowers, which resemble hot air balloons. It is native to China, Korea, Japan, and eastern Siberia. It is becoming naturalized in a few states in the United States, and its cultivars are popular in flower gardens.
Identification: Plants are 12-36" (30-91 cm) tall. Star-shaped 5-petaled flowers are blue, blue-violet, white, or pink, 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) across. Leaves are oval-shaped, with serrated edges and pointed tips, 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) long.
Edibility: The large roots, which are toxic when raw, are prized in Asian cuisines when cooked. Roots are peeled, blanched in salt water, then fried, pickled, or added to soups. They contain antioxidants and immunostimulants. Uppermost leaves are also edible as an addition to salads.
Platycodon grandiflorus in Paghat's Garden
Platycodon grandiflorus on BayImages.net
Platycodon grandiflorus on Wikimedia Commons
Platycodon grandiflorus on www.chicago-botanic.org
Platycodon grandiflorus on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Platycodon grandiflorus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.
Range: Zones 4-9: