Momordica charantia L.
Sp. pl. 2: 1009 (1753).

Synonyms Momordica indica L. (1754), Momordica elegans Salisb. (1796), Momordica chinensis Spreng. (1891).

Vernacular names Bitter gourd, bitter cucumber, balsam pear (En). Bitter melon (Am). Margose, paroka (Fr). Indonesia: paria (general), pare (Javanese), papari (Moluccas). Malaysia: peria, peria laut, periok. Philippines: ampalaya (Tagalog), paria (Ilocano), palia (Bisaya). Cambodia: mreah. Laos: 'hai1, 'phak 'ha, sai1. Thailand: mara (general), maha (northern), phakha (north-eastern). Vietnam: m[uw] [ows]p d[aws]ng, m[uw] [ows]p m[ur] (northern), kh[oor] qua (south).

Distribution Momordica charantia was possibly first domesticated in eastern India and southern China. It now has a pantropical distribution, with wild and cultivated populations.

Uses See under genus treatment for the numerous medicinal uses. The immature fruits are a well-known vegetable. The pulpy arils can be eaten as a sweet. The seed mass of the ripe fruit can be used as a condiment. Momordica charantia is occasionally planted as an ornamental.

Observations A monoecious, annual vine up to 5 m long, stem 5-ridged, tendrils simple; leaf blade broadly ovate to suborbicular or ovate-reniform in outline, 2.5-10 cm x 3-12.5 cm, deeply palmately (3-)5(-9)-lobed, deeply cordate at base, lobes obovate and sinuate-lobulate or sinuate-toothed, glabrous or sparsely pubescent; flowers solitary, 2-3.5 cm in diameter, yellow; male flowers on a 0.5-3 cm long peduncle bearing an apical bract of up to 2.2 cm long, pedicel 2-5.5 cm long; female flowers on a 0.2-5 cm long peduncle bearing an apical bract of up to 1.2 cm long, pedicel 1-10 cm long; fruit 3-11(-45) cm x 2-4(-8) cm, irregularly warty, orange, dehiscing; seeds 8-16 mm x 4-10 mm x 2.5-3.5 mm, brown, testa ornamented. Momordica charantia is found in lowland rain forest, riverine forest, thickets, hedges, waste places and roadsides and may be locally abundant.

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Author: Nguyen Huu Hien & Sri Hayati Widodo

Source of This Article:
Nguyen Huu Hien & Widodo, S.H., 1999. Momordica charantia L.In: de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara, N. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, The Netherlands, pp. 357-358

Recommended Citation:
Nguyen Huu Hien & Widodo, S.H., 1999. Momordica charantia L.[Internet] Record from Proseabase. de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara, N. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors).
PROSEA (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.proseanet.org.
Accessed from Internet: 23-Feb-2020

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