Platycodon grandiflorus var mariesii
Slow growing clump forming herbaceous perennial related to the bellflowers. The purple-blue flower buds form a puffy balloon and then open to a bell shaped lilac flower in summer. They are very attractive to bees and butterflies and make good cut flowers too.
This plant is native to Korea, Japan, China and Eastern Siberia. In the former three countries the whole plant is used as a vegetable. It is rich in saponins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and other compounds. It contains a large number of fatty acids such as linoleic acid, a variety of amino acids, vitamins, and multiple essential trace elements. The older leaves are dried, powdered and used as a flavouring. (Leaves from the top of the plant only should be used, not the ones eminating from the base, as these may be slightly toxic). The root is eaten in soups as a tonic vegetable and also peeled and pickled or preserved in sugar. In Korea the root is known as Doraji and is a popular ingredient in salads and traditional cuisine, and said to have a meaty texture but with a bit of crunch. It’s used as an important ingredient in the Korean rice dish Bibimbap, as well as in a side dish called Namul.
Balloon Flower also has a long history of medicinal use in these countries – over 2000 years in China, and modern clinical tests have confirmed its efficacy. It lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the liver and inhibits the release of histamine. It is used internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, colds, bronchitis, pleurisy, pulmonary abscesses and throat infections. It is also used to treat hypertension and diabetes.
The root of plants 2 – 3 years old are harvested in the spring or autumn, peeled and used fresh or dried.
Generally we only sell the true species of a plant (and we never sell hybrids). At the moment we are unable to source the true species but the Maries Balloon Flower (a strain discovered by Charles Maries) is more compact than the true type but otherwise similar in use.
Suitable for full sun or part shade. Likes well drained soils but prefers some moisture, though it dislikes wet feet during winter when dormant. Very frost hardy. Height to 50cm when in flower.
9cm pot certified organic plant.