Citrullus lanatus Thunb Matsum

[From Latin, citrullus = diminutive of citrus, and lana = wool]

Synonymy: Citrullus vulgaris Schrad.

Common names: Watermelon; paye (Burma); hsi kua (Chinese); pasteque (French); au lek (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam); melao da India (Portuguese); chitra (Sanskrit); melon de agua (Spanish); cocomero (Italian).

Physical description: It is an annual, woolly climber native to Africa which is cultivated in several warm countries for its edible fruits. Leaves: simple, spiral and without stipules. The petiole is pilose, 2.1 cm-5.7cm long, thin, and sheathing at the base. The tendrils are axillary and bifid. The blade is deeply incised, rigid, woolly on both surfaces, and laxly serrate. The blade shows 3-5 pairs of secondary nerves which are flat above and slightly raised below. The flowers are 1 cm x 7 mm, axillary and solitary. The calyx consists of 5 lobes which are narrowly lanceolate and equal in length to the corolla. The corolla is yellow within and greenish outside, and the lobes are ovate-oblong and 5-nerved.The flower pedicels are 1 cm-1.8cm long, slender, and woolly. The fruits are smooth, globose, greenish berries, measuring up to 40 cm in diameter. The flesh is reddish-pink, or white, juicy and palatable. The seeds are blackish, marginated and glossy (Fig. 112).

Uses: In China, the pulp and the rind are eaten to treat diabetes and jaundice, and to expel impurities. The pulp is used to soothe an inflamed throat, heal sores in the mouth and to fight dependence on alcohol. In India, the unripe fruits are used to strengthen, promote libido and to treat jaundice and fever. The seeds are used to promote libido, and the leaves are used to check bleeding. In Indonesia, the fruits are used to assuage rheumatic pains. In Malaysia, the juice of the roots is used to check bleeding after an abortion. In Palau, the fruits are used to treat beriberi and cystitis. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the pulp and rind are eaten to regulate motion.

Gui Plante
Fig. 112. Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf. From: KLU 040742. Flora of the Northern Mariana Islands. Ex. University of Guam Herbar-

Pharmaceutical interest: To date, ium. Field collector: c. Bjork' .14 May 1985.

Geographical localization: cultivated in farm-there are nO recent studies On the ers fields between Agric. Station and Maqpo. possible pharmacological properties Botanical identification: de Wilde, 1996. of Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.

Some muscular and cardiovascular effects of a-elaterin-2-D-glucopyranoside isolated from Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad. have been reported by Banerjee etal. (1976).

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