I love interesting flowers and these rank right up at the top for me. Yes, they are real! They are a hybrid appropriately called Chinese Lanterns. I took this picture in the Biltmore Estates' Gardens, in Asheville, NC. (click on the pic to get a larger view...just incredible... perfect!)
Anyway, it got me to thinking...were chinese paper lanterns made to look like the flower or were the flowers named after the paper lanterns because of their resemblance? Which came first? Kind of like the chicken and the egg! Interesting...makes you think...for a couple seconds anyway!