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Pakistan | Family List | Cucurbitaceae | Momordica

2. Momordica charantia Linn., Sp. Pl. 1009. 1753. Clarke in Hook. f., l.c. 116; Cogn. in A. & C. DC., Monogr. Phan. 3:436. 1881; Cooke, l.c. 616; Chakravarty, l.c. 88; R.R. Stewart, l.c. 706; C. Jeffrey, l.c. 789.

Vern.: Karela.


  • Momordica charantia var. abbreviata Ser.
  • Momordica charantia var. longirostrata Cogn.
  • Momordica muricata DC.

    Annual, monoecious, climber or trailer with unbranched tendrils. Stem glabrous or hairy. Leaves suborbicular to orbicular, 5-10(-12) cm long and broad, mucronate-dentate, deeply 5-7-lobed, lobes ovate-oblong or ovate-elliptic, glabrous or pubescent, acute, base constricted. Petiole 1.5-3.5 (-6) cm long, villous. Flowers yellow, c. 3 cm across, solitary, male peduncles c. 7.0 cm long, bearing the bracts about the middle or below the middle. Calyx pubescent. Corolla slightly zygomorphic, with obovate, obtuse lobes. Ovary fusiform, muricate. Fruit oblong-fusiform or oval, 7-25 cm long, dehiscent. Seeds oblong, 1-1.5 cm long, 6-9 mm broad, embedded in red pulp, sculptured.

    Fl. Per.: April-July.

    Lectotype: Specimen of a plant cultivated at Hartekemp, Holland (BM).

    Distribution: Tropical and South Africa, South East and Far East Asia to Australia; naturalized in tropical and South America including W. Indies.

    The plant is extensively cultivated during the warm. season for its fruits which although bitter are used as a vegetable; they are considered tonic, stomachic and carminative, they are used in rheumatism, gout and diseases of liver and spleen. The immature fruit is very commonly eaten during epidemics of small-pox as it is supposed to have a preventive effect.


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