Momordica charantia L

[From Latin, mordere = bite]

Physical description: It is a slender annual climber cultivated in the tropical regions for its edible berries. The stems are hairy and 1 mm-2 mm in

Synonymy: Momordica balsamina sensu Blanco.

Common names: Wild basalm apple, bitter gourd, carilla fruit; kyethenka (Burma); mreas (Cambodian); koo kwa kan (Chinese); pandipane (French); periah (Malay); pepino de Sao Gregorio (Portuguese); karaka; patu (Sanskrit); pakal (Tamil); kho qua (Vietnamese).

diameter. Leaves: simple, alternate and without stipules. The petiole is 1 cm-2 cm long and hairy. The tendrils are opposite the leaves, and 1 cm-6 cm long. The blade is very thin, mottled with very small blackish spots below, hairy, 3.4 cm x 3.5 cm-2.9 cm x 3.7 cm and deeply 5-7-lobed. The nerves are sunken above, flat below and hairy. The margin is laxly toothed. The flowers are axillary, solitary, yellow and attached to 4cm-10cm long pedicels where small bracts are found at or below the middle. The calyx is campanulate, 5-lobed, hairy and 8 mm-10 mm long. The calyx lobes are 5mm-6mm long, elliptic and acute. The corolla is irregular and yellowish and consists of 5, 1.6cm-3cm long petals which are free, showily veined, hairy and rotate. The andrecium comprises of 3 stamens which are condu-plicate. The ovary is fusiform and muricate, and develops upwards into a 3-fid stigma. The fruits are edible, fusiform, muricate, bright orange when ripe, 5cm-15cm long, and cucumber-shaped berries containing several seeds. The seeds are 8 mm-13 mm long, compressed, corrugated on the margin, sculptured on both surfaces and embedded in a crimson aril (Fig. 115).

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