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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 366–367. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/22/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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1. Cardiospermum halicacabum L. (common balloon vine, love in a puff)

Pl. 557 h–j; Map 2588

Plants annuals (perennial herbs farther south), vines. Stems 30–400 cm long, climbing, much-branched, with branched, axillary tendrils (these with tiny bracts similar to those of the inflorescences at the branch points). Leaves alternate, short- to often long-petiolate. Stipules lacking. Leaf blades pentagonal to ovate-triangular in overall outline, 1 or 2 times ternately compound, the primary leaflets 1–8 cm long, usually stalked (the stalks sometimes winged to the base), narrowly to broadly lanceolate to ovate or ovate-rhombic, not noticeably curved, the ultimate leaflets variously broadly angled to narrowly tapered at the base, angled or tapered to a usually sharply pointed tip, often with a minute, sharp point at the very tip, the margins coarsely toothed and/or pinnately few-lobed, also minutely hairy, the surfaces sparsely pubescent with short, curved hairs along the main veins. Inflorescences axillary clusters or small panicles, these long-stalked, the stalk with a pair of tendril-branches at or more commonly above its midpoint, the branches and stalks glabrous or sparsely and minutely hairy, the branch points (and ultimate branches) with inconspicuous bracts, these in groups of 2 or 3, linear to narrowly lanceolate or narrowly triangular 0.5–1.3 mm long. Flowers somewhat zygomorphic, hypogynous, short- to relatively long-stalked. Calyces deeply 4-lobed, relatively strongly zygomorphic with 2 shorter opposite lobes 0.8–1.5 mm long and 2 longer opposite lobes 2.5–3.5 mm long, the lobes light green to yellowish green, oblong to oblong-obovate, rounded to broadly pointed at their tips, especially the larger pair concave (cupped), glabrous, usually persistent but inconspicuous and withered at fruiting. Corollas of 4 free petals, only slightly zygomorphic with opposite slightly longer and shorter pairs, 2.5–3.5 mm long, white, the blade obovate, relatively flat and spreading, glabrous, narrowed to a short, slender, stalklike base, with a petaloid appendage on the upper surface at the base (these about 2/3 as long as the petal and narrower, erect and surrounding the stamens and ovary) on the upper surface near the base. Stamens 8 (appearing short but fully formed in pistillate flowers), the filaments glabrous, erect, somewhat exserted beyond the petal appendages, somewhat unequal, the anthers yellow. Pistil of 3 fused carpels (except in staminate flowers), 3-locular, with 1 ovule per locule. Style 1, slightly exserted at flowering, relatively short, unbranched, the stigma deeply 3-lobed. Fruits capsular, 30–45 mm long, more or less circular in profile, broadly 3-lobed in cross-section (ridged on the angles and with a prominent longitudinal vein along the sinus), short-tapered at the sometimes short-stalked base, rounded to short-tapered at the tip, the outer wall inflated and papery, appearing veiny, light green during development, turning reddish brown to straw-colored at maturity, but then sometimes pinkish-tinged, usually finely short-hairy, 3-locular, mostly 3-seeded (1 per locule). Seeds 4.5–5.5 mm long, globose or nearly so, glabrous at maturity, the surface appearing smooth to faintly wrinkled, slightly shiny, black, with a well-developed aril toward the base, this sometimes extending nearly to the midpoint of the fruit, broadly heart-shaped to deeply kidney-shaped, white, finely granular in texture. 2n=22. July–September.

Introduced, scattered in easternmost Missouri, thus far only in counties bordering the Mississippi River (native to both the New and Old World tropics, introduced in the eastern U.S. west to Kansas and Texas, also Hawaii). Banks of streams and rivers, marshes, and edges of bottomland forests; also levees, ditches, fallow fields, roadsides, and open, moist disturbed areas.

This species is most successful in full-sun sites and most often is an early colonizer of highly disturbed areas. On a very local scale, plants of C. halicacabum can form relatively dense mats over other low vegetation. The species is considered a noxious weed by Agriculture Departments in several states to the south and east of Missouri. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens, mostly on trellises and for its attractive fruits. The seeds sometimes are used as beads in jewelry. The plants also have been used medicinally, mainly in the Old World, as an emetic and laxative, and for treatment of a variety of ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis (Subramanyam et al., 2007).



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