Momordica charantia L.

First published in Sp. Pl.: 1009 (1753)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Tropical & Subtropical Old World to S. Pacific. It is a climbing annual and grows primarily in the wet tropical biome. It is used as animal food, a poison and a medicine, has environmental uses and for food.

Descriptions

Cucurbitaceae, C. Jeffrey. Flora Zambesiaca 4. 1978

Morphology General Habit
Stems prostrate or scandent to 5 m., sparsely to densely crispate-pubescent or villous, especially at nodes.
Morphology Leaves
Leaf-lamina 1–10 × 1–12·5 cm., broadly ovate to orbicular in outline, cordate, narrowly decurrent on to petiole, punctate and sparsely pubescent to densely villous on veins beneath, sparsely hirsute especially on veins above, deeply palmately 3–7-lobed, lobes variously sinuate-dentate or lobulate, acute to retuse, apiculate.
Morphology Leaves Petiole
Petiole 0·5–7 cm. long.
Morphology General Tendrils
Tendrils simple.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers monoecious, solitary. male flowers: peduncle 0·3–5 cm. long; bract 2–17 mm. long, broadly ovate or reniform, sessile, cordate, amplexicaul, obtuse or retuse, apiculate, green; pedicel 2–9·5 cm. long. Receptacle-tube 1–5 mm. long; lobes 3–7 mm. long, ovate-lanceolate. Petals 1·0–2·5 cm. long, pale to deep yellow, ovate to obovate. Female flowers: peduncle 0·2–5 cm. long; bract 1–12 mm. long; pedicel 1–10 cm. long; ovary 8–11(30) × 2–4 mm., ovoid-rostrate to fusi-form, ridged, pilose on ridges, tuberculate; receptacle-tube 1–3 mm. long, lobes 2–5 mm. long, lanceolate; petals 0·7–1·2 cm. long.
sex Male
male flowers: peduncle 0·3–5 cm. long; bract 2–17 mm. long, broadly ovate or reniform, sessile, cordate, amplexicaul, obtuse or retuse, apiculate, green; pedicel 2–9·5 cm. long. Receptacle-tube 1–5 mm. long; lobes 3–7 mm. long, ovate-lanceolate. Petals 1·0–2·5 cm. long, pale to deep yellow, ovate to obovate.
sex Female
Female flowers: peduncle 0·2–5 cm. long; bract 1–12 mm. long; pedicel 1–10 cm. long; ovary 8–11(30) × 2–4 mm., ovoid-rostrate to fusi-form, ridged, pilose on ridges, tuberculate; receptacle-tube 1–3 mm. long, lobes 2–5 mm. long, lanceolate; petals 0·7–1·2 cm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit 2·5–4·8(11) × 1·5–2·3(4) cm., ovoid-rostrate or ellipsoid, longitudinally ribbed and tuberculate, bright orange-red, dehiscent into 3 valves; fruit-stalk 3·4–15 cm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 8–11 × 4·5–8 × 2–3·5 mm., enveloped in sticky red pulp, ovate-elliptic to oblong in outline; faces flattened, sculptured, with sinuate edges; margins grooved.
[FZ]

Cucurbitaceae, C. Jeffrey. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1967

Morphology General Habit
Annual climber or trailer to 5 m.
Morphology Stem
Stems herbaceous, ridged, glabrous or hairy, strap-shaped at the base.
Morphology Leaves
Leaf-blade broadly ovate-reniform or orbicular in outline, cordate, 25–100 mm. long, 30–125 mm. broad, glabrous or pubescent (especially on the nerves) on both surfaces, deeply palmately (3–)5(–7)-lobed; lobes obovate, ovate-elliptic or rhombic in outline, narrowed towards the base, acute and apiculate, sinuate-toothed and unlobed or more usually sinuate-lobulate; petioles 14–70 mm. long.
Morphology General Tendrils
Tendrils simple.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Monoecious. Male flowers solitary; peduncle 5–28 mm. long, bearing an apical 3–15 mm. long 4–22 mm. broad suborbicular apiculate clasping green bract; pedicel 18–55 mm. long; receptacle-tube obconic, pale greenish-yellow, 2–4 mm. long; lobes ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, adpressed to lower surface of the petals, 3–6.5 mm. long; petals obovate-lingulate, apiculate, 11–22 mm. long, 7.5–15 mm. broad, pale yellow to orange-yellow, 2 with scales inside at the base; stamens 3; anthers coherent in centre of flower; thecae triplicate. Female flowers with peduncle 2–50 mm. long, bearing an apical broadly ovate or suborbicular 1–12 mm. long 1–10 mm. broad sessile bract; pedicel 10–100 mm. long; ovary ovoid and beaked to elongate-fusiform, muricate-tuberculate, 8–30 mm. long, 2–4 mm. across; receptacle-lobes linear, acute, 2–5 mm. long, reflexed at the tips; petals 7–12 mm. long, 3–6 mm. wide.
sex Male
Male flowers solitary; peduncle 5–28 mm. long, bearing an apical 3–15 mm. long 4–22 mm. broad suborbicular apiculate clasping green bract; pedicel 18–55 mm. long; receptacle-tube obconic, pale greenish-yellow, 2–4 mm. long; lobes ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, adpressed to lower surface of the petals, 3–6.5 mm. long; petals obovate-lingulate, apiculate, 11–22 mm. long, 7.5–15 mm. broad, pale yellow to orange-yellow, 2 with scales inside at the base; stamens 3; anthers coherent in centre of flower; thecae triplicate.
sex Female
Female flowers with peduncle 2–50 mm. long, bearing an apical broadly ovate or suborbicular 1–12 mm. long 1–10 mm. broad sessile bract; pedicel 10–100 mm. long; ovary ovoid and beaked to elongate-fusiform, muricate-tuberculate, 8–30 mm. long, 2–4 mm. across; receptacle-lobes linear, acute, 2–5 mm. long, reflexed at the tips; petals 7–12 mm. long, 3–6 mm. wide.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit on a 37–150 mm. or more long stalk, pendulous, broadly ovoid and beaked to attenuate-ellipsoid, 35–110 mm. long, 20–40 mm. across, reddish-orange with a paler apex, ornamented with ± 8 longitudinal rows of subconical tubercles and with many smaller tubercles in between, splitting into 3 valves and exposing the seeds sheathed in sticky red pulp hanging in two rows from the faces of each valve.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds oblong, ± 8–11 × 4.5–6 × 2.5–3.5 mm.; testa sculptured; margins grooved.
Habitat
Lowland rain-forest and riverine forest, elephant-grass thicket and in plantations; 100–1220 m.; sometimes cultivated
Distribution
K7 T4 T8 U2 U4 Z pantropical, but probably introduced in the New World
[FTEA]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Adventicia en Colombia; Alt. 5 - 1500 m.; Amazonia, Andes, Islas Caribeñas, Llanura del Caribe, Orinoquia, Pacífico, Valle del Cauca, Valle del Magdalena.
Morphology General Habit
Trepadora
Conservation
No Evaluada
[CPLC]

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia. http://www.biovirtual.unal.edu.co/nombrescomunes/

Vernacular
alchucha, archucha, archurchis, balsamín, balsamina, balsamino, balsamira, bejuco de cojé, bejuco de culebra, bocado de culebra, bocaoeculebra, chauchilla, cojé, cundeamor, fruto de la culebra, maravilla, marsamila, mavilla, pepinillo, pepino, pepino de culebra, pepino de monte, sibicogén, sibijote, sibricogén, sonsonga, subecogé, subicogé, subicogén, yerba de culebra
[UNAL]

George R. Proctor (2012). Flora of the Cayman Isands (Second Edition). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Vernacular
SERASEE, sometimes spelled CERASEE
Morphology General Habit
Tender climber with stems 1–3 mm thick; leaves 2–7 cm long and wide, deeply palmately lobed into 5–7 obovate, irregularly toothed lobes, glabrous or nearly so except on the veins
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Staminate flowers solitary on long filiform peduncles 5–15 cm long, with a roundish green bract near the middle
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Pistillate flowers on short peduncles 2–4 cm long, with a bract near the base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit bright orange, 4–6 cm long (var. charantia) or 1.5–3 cm long (var. abbreviata Ser. ex DC., 1828), ovoid or spindle-shaped, tuberculate, when ripe splitting by 3 valves from the apex; seeds embedded in crimson pulp.
Distribution
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac. Now occurring in all warm countries, cultivated and naturalised.
[Cayman]

Extinction risk predictions for the world's flowering plants to support their conservation (2024). Bachman, S.P., Brown, M.J.M., Leão, T.C.C., Lughadha, E.N., Walker, B.E. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.19592

Conservation
Predicted extinction risk: not threatened. Confidence: confident
[AERP]

Distribution
Biogeografic region: Amazonia, Andean, Caribbean, Orinoquia, Pacific. Elevation range: 5–1500 m a.s.l. Naturalised in Colombia. Colombian departments: Amazonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlántico, Bolívar, Caldas, Casanare, Cesar, Chocó, Córdoba, Cundinamarca, Guainía, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Norte de Santander, Quindío, San Andrés y Providencia, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vichada.
Habit
Climbing.
[UPFC]

Cucurbitaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Morphology General Habit
Climber, flowers yellow
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit ripening orange, 2–3 in. long, bursting in 3 valves to expose the carmine red seeds
Ecology
Extending into moister regions.
[FWTA]

Uses

Use
Both the leaves and the fruits are believed by many people to be of medicinal value, perhaps because they are so bitter.
[Cayman]

Use Animal Food
Used as animal food.
Use Environmental
Environmental uses.
Use Gene Sources
Used as gene sources.
Use Food
Used for food.
Use Materials
Used as material.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.
Use Poisons
Poisons.
[UPFC]

Common Names

English
Bitter Gourd

Sources

  • Angiosperm Extinction Risk Predictions v1

    • Angiosperm Threat Predictions
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0
  • Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible

    • ColPlantA 2021. Published on the Internet at http://colplanta.org
    • https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of the Cayman Islands

    • Flora of the Cayman Islands
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Living Collection Database

    • Common Names from Plants and People Africa http://www.plantsandpeopleafrica.com/
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Science Photographs

    • Copyright applied to individual images
  • Neotropikey

    • Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia

    • ColPlantA database
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0