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Pakistan | Family List | Cucurbitaceae | Momordica

1. Momordica balsamina Linn., Sp. Pl. 1009. 1753. Clarke, l.c. 617; Boiss., Fl. Orient. 2:757. 1872; Chakravarty, l.c. 90; Cooke, Fl. Pres. Bomb. 1:562. 1903; Jafri, Fl. Kar. 321. 1966; R.R. Stewart in Nasir & Ali, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 705. 1972; C. Jeffrey in Kew Bull. 34:790. 1980.

Vern.: Keerelo-Jangro, Jangli karela.


Annual climber with unbranched glabrous tendrils, monoecious. Stem pubescent to glabrescent. Leaves orbicular, 1.5-5.0 (-12.0) cm long and as broad, cordate, glabrous or sparsely hairy, 3-5-lobed, middle lobes broadly ovate or rhombic-ovate, sinuate-dentate or acutely lobulate. Petiole 1-3(-4) cm long, pubescent. Flowers yellow, 2.5-3.0 cm across, pedicellate. Male flowers solitary, on 1.5(-7) cm long peduncle, bearing near the apex a sessile, broadly ovate-cordate, subglabrous, dentate bract; female flowers on 5-15 mm long basally bracteate or ebracteate peduncles. Calyx tube 5-6 mm long, pubescent, lobes ovate, acuminate, 3-3.5 mm broad. Corolla slightly zygomorphic, brown at base, lobes yellow, obovate, 10-15 mm long, 8-10(-12) mm broad. Ovary fusiform, beaked, puberulous, longitudinally tuberculate. Fruit broadly ovoid, narrowed at ends, 2-7 cm long, 1-2.5 cm broad, orange-red, tuberculate. Seeds elliptic-ovate, 1-1.2 cm long, 6-7 mm broad.

Fl. Per.: Aug.-November.

Lectotype: From a plant cultivated at Hartekamp, Holland (BM).

Distribution: Widespread in the drier parts of South Africa and Tropical Africa, Arabia, Tropical Asia and Australia.

Fairly common in Sind and Punjab, up to 300 metres.

Tender fruits are eaten as vegetable or pickled; also used for flavouring various dishes. Leaves and stem are used as camel fodder. The plant is considered stomachic and tonic. The fruits contain momordicin which appears to be identical with elaterin.


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