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Snake gourd Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina

The snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. Anguina), was probably originally domesticated in India, and the wild form of the species (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. cucumerina) is native to southern and eastern Asia as well as to Australia (where the MSB collection is from) and the islands of the western Pacific. Like other gourds, it is a member of the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae), and as the name implies, the fruits are very long, slender and often wriggly like a snake.

Nowadays, snake gourds are also cultivated as a minor vegetable crop in parts of Africa, Madagascar and other tropical and subtropical regions. They are eaten as a vegetable when very young, although the taste is rather bland. As snake gourds get older, their flesh becomes tougher and more bitter and their rind turns dark red and hardens. Inside they contain a soft, red, tomato-like pulp that can be used as a tomato-substitute in cooking.
 
During the course of a night, the bud of a snake gourd slowly unfurls into a beautiful white and strongly scented flower, fringed with long, lace-like tendrils. Their shape, colour and scent, as well as their nocturnal opening, clearly indicate that the snake gourd’s flowers are moth-pollinated. 
 
Thanks to Wolfgang Stuppy for the picture of the flower and www.world-crops.com for fruit images

 

Fact 1

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