The Wonder of “Physalis Alkekengi”

This sounds strange for its unfamiliar name. It is “Tino Tino” as we call it in our local dialect. Its origin is traced in Japan. In China, this is called as Chinese Lantern berry due to its figure and shape which look like a small lantern. This is grown in Asia and our country Philippines which is part of Asia. It is also grown in Southern Europe.


Childhood Plant Berry

This berry had played so much on the way we were growing up especially when we were in our childhood days. In the weekend since we didn’t have classes, my peer group gathered around in a place where we used to meet late in the afternoon. When we were completed we proceeded to our hangout in vacant land just a stone-throw from our residence.

We rolled to the grassy ground then got up and chased each other. When we got tired we looked around for a tall grasses, pulled them and threw or scattered around. Then we rested. While resting, we picked the berries of “Tino Tino“, pressed them to our forehead to let its covering burst. Or we collected a handful of them, rolled its shiny green rounded fruits or berries like a marble. Its ripen one, we ate them for it tasted like a sweet-sour as it broke into our mouth. We couldn’t forget this kind of plant berry in our life. It contributed a lot on how we grew up as we played in the prairie or in the meadow. These berries grew all over.

Nowadays, you could hardly find them. A week ago while I was taking a 30-minute walk to the nearby farm, I came across with these berries growing along the grassy road near the canal. They were hardly seen for they were covered by a tall cogon grass. I had spotted them for I had seen its fruits shaped like a lantern. Everyday I kept on checking it up until I was able to harvest some of its ripen berries.

Its Uses and benefits

As adopted by Chinese, it has a medicinal benefit to human. As a plant bearing berry, it is rich in vitamin A and C. It gives a small amount of phosphorous, calcium and iron. It improves metabolism. It has a diuretic and laxative effect for it is rich in pectin which prevents constipation.

It is also a good source of antioxidant superoxide dismutase, an anti-inflammatory property which treats arthritis according to study. It is also studied that it could inhibit female fertility.

This berry may use as fruit desserts, savory sauce for turkey, pork, fish or other meat. It could also be used for a pie filling.

Tino Tino“, Chinese lantern berries, or Physalis Alkekengi is a plant-bearing berry which has contributed much of my growing up. It is a reminiscence of my childhood friends.


  1. Jo Pin

    I vividly recognized this plant. Growing up, we used to play this a lot and could hardly realized they have certain benefits too. This definitely brings back childhood playtime memories.
    Thanks for sharing. Now I know its name.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      Yap. That is why I call it childhood fruit berry. It reminds how happy we were when we were kids before playing with this plant.

  2. Lee Ka

    I am not sure but I think I have seen these fruits before, but small ones. I didn’t know it has so many benefits, I just thought they look cute. Thanks for telling me the name, I always thought of finding out what it’s called but I haven’t seen these plants for many years.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      I even found it hard to look for this plant in our place. Some local dialect people call this “Bulay Bulay” in the Western Visayas.

  3. Bhushavali

    I know that feel. I felt the same way when the fireflies and sparrows started missing from my locality! I used to feed the sparrows and watch the fireflies from my terrace in my school days!!! Not to be seen anymore!!! 🙁

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      It pays to recall our childhood days. And it is too sad to find nothing of our childhood days memoirs especially those birds, trees, plants and anything that we used to play, see and admire.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      It could be or it is not grown in your place. It is only found in Asia and in Southern Europe.

  4. Saminu Abass

    Great post with remind of memories. It is a pleasure reading this post. Thanks for sharing

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      You’re absolutely right Franc. Those childhood memories could compel you to go back when you were kids, alive and kicking or full of energy.

  5. Fred

    Thanks for showing the picture so I now I know I’ve seen this plant before. Never knew it was edible or medicinal. Interesting to learn facts about this.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      Remote or unknown realities couldn’t remain as they are. By sharing them, others may appreciate and could benefit much of them.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      That is why. This plant is a recollection or a reminder of my childhood days.

  6. Ceci

    Yes, me too, I loved to play with it and ate it when run and walked around the whole village during the childhood days.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      It is still fresh on my mind on how my peer and me were playing with that plant when we were yet innocent kids.

  7. nicol

    ive not heard of these before. also not sure where i can get some here. nice to know it’s benefits

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      Now you know about this wonder plant, especially its benefits that it could give to the people who consume it. I think this plant is only grown in an Asian countries.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      That is a good idea. If you do, please don’t fail to let us know. Thank you.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      It would be better if you could find it and eat it and share to us your experience of eating it.

    1. Gil Camporazo Post author

      It would be better if you could elaborate it for us to know and to appreciate. Thanks.

  8. Arvin Salvador

    Very interesting and very similar childhood experiences regarding tino-tino. I found one growing here in New Zealand, they call it gooseberries. I am trying to grow some seedlings.

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