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Momordica cymbalaria

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Photo by Wojciech Maksymilian Szymanski.


Photo of the flowers from Tjprc.org.


The fruits from Drsrevathi.blogspot.com.

Author: Eduard Fenzl, 1859
Family:  CUCURBITACEAE
Origin:  Southern India, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Tanganyika, Sudan, Uganda
Soil:  Rich
Water:  Medium
Sun:  Medium - Maximum
Thickness:  10 Centimetres
Height:  3-5 Metres
Flower:  White - Yellow
Propagate:  Seeds/Tubers
Names:  Karchikai, Athalakai, Kadavanchil
Synonyms:  Luffa tuberosa, William Roxburgh, 1832.
Momordica tuberosa
,  CÚlestin Alfred Cogniaux, 1881.
Kedrostis malvifolia, Emilio Chiovenda, 1932.
Luffa hilapikku
Herb. Madr. ex Wall.
Cucumis hilapikku,
Herb. Madr. ex Wall.
Cucumis tuberosus,
Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
Luffa amara,
Wall.

This monoecious member of the Cucurbitaceae family was given this name by Eduard Fenzl in 1859. It is found in India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Tanganyika, Sudan and Uganda. It can be grown in a rich but well drained soil with some water and some to lots of sun. The caudex can grow to ten centimetres in diameter, the entire plant to three or even five metres in height. The flowers are from white to yellow.

The name does confuse me a bit. It seems like both Eduard Fenzl; 1859 and Joseph Dalton Hooker; 1871 have used this name. Fenzl for a plant in southern India, Hooker for an African plant. Further more, the synonym Momordica tuberosa seems to be used by both Dennstedt 1855 and Cogniaux 1881. And Fenzl used Charles Victor Naudin's descriptions, but I fail to find what name he originally gave the plant. My aim is to use the data above to the Indian plant, described by Fenzl. That said, I can't rule out it is the same species found both in Africa and India, as it is a medicine plant, which could have been brought around in ancient times by man - or birds.

The name comes from Mordio: 'to bite' after the bitten appearance of the seeds. The species name means 'small-cup', as to shape of lip.


Photo of the leaves from Tjprc.org.