The combination of Cardiospermum halicacabum's balloon like fruits, and seeds marked with hearts, gives this species its common name, "love in a puff".
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, radiate 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.
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!
Cardiospermum halicacabum with its wonderful lantern-like balloon fruits and its seeds marked with hearts is also romantically referred to as ‘love-in-a-puff’ and in Mexico, as ‘frolitos’ (little lanterns).