Platycodon grandiflorus (from Ancient Greek λαύ "wide" and κδν "bell") is a species of herbaceous flowering perennial plant of the family Campanulaceae, and the only member of the genus Platycodon. It is native to East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, and the Russian Far East). It is commonly known as common balloon flower or balloon flower (referring to the balloon-shaped flower buds), and, depending on the region, Korean bellflower, Chinese bellflower, or Japanese bellflower.
Growing to 60 cm (24 in) tall by 30 cm (12 in) wide, it is an herbaceous perennial with dark green leaves and blue flowers in late summer. A notable feature of the plant is the flower bud which swells like a balloon before fully opening. The five petals are fused together into a bell shape at the base, like its relatives, the campanulas. There are varieties with white, pink and purple blooms in cultivation. In Korea, white flowers are more common. This plant together with its cultivars 'Apoyama group' and 'Mariesii' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
In Korea, the plant is known as doraji (라) and its root, either dried or fresh, is a popular ingredient in salads and traditional cuisine. The Chinese bellflower (called in Chinese) is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The extracts and purified platycoside compounds (saponins) from the roots of Platycodon grandiflorum may exhibit neuroprotective, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-allergy, improved insulin resistance, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Evidence for these potential effects was mainly observed in vitro, with the exception of cholesterol lowering effects documented in vitro and in rats. The lack of efficacy and limited safety data in humans however, necessitates further research.
In Korea, the roots are commonly used for treating bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. In China, they are used as a cough suppressant and expectorant for common colds, cough, sore throat, tonsillitis, and chest congestion.
In the Taiwanese drama "Autumn's Concerto", -, Hua Tuo Ye refers to the woman of his affection, 梁- Liang Mu Cheng as a Chinese Bellflower.
The bellflower is called kikyō () in Japanese. Traditionally, it is one of the Seven Autumn Flowers. In addition, the "Bellflower Seal" (, kikyōmo) is the crest (kamon) of some clans.
In Japanese anime, a number characters have been named after the flower. Notable characters include the following.
In Korea, the white bellflower (doraji) is sung about in the traditional folk song, "Doraji".