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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 6 | Cucurbitaceae | Citrullus

1. Citrullus colocynthis (Linnaeus) Schrader, Linnaea. 12: 414. 1838.

Colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, vine of Sodom Colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, vine of Sodom

Cucumis colocynthis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1011. 1753; Colocynthis vulgaris Schrader

Flowering Jun–Sep. Peanut fields, pond dikes in cotton fields, fallow fields, waste ground; 0–100 m; introduced; Calif., Mass., Tex.; Africa; introduced also in Europe, Asia, Pacific Islands, Australia.

Citrullus colocynthis is a traditional food plant in Africa, where it is grown particularly for its edible seeds, which are bitter but nutty-flavored, rich in fat and protein, and eaten whole or used as an oilseed. It has also been a standard cathartic remedy, mostly in combination with other cathartics.

Three main haplotypes within colocynth have been identified via molecular data (F. Dane and P. Lang 2004; Dane and J. Liu 2007; A. Levi and C. E. Thomas 2005).

Colocynth rarely is encountered outside of cultivation. It has been reported as a weed in Texas peanut fields (G. L. Nesom 2011); in Massachusetts, it has been sporadically collected since 1878; in California, it has been collected on a pond dike in an area of cotton fields in Kern County.


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