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Momordica charantia

Family Name: Cucurbitaceae
Synonyms: Sicyos fauriei, Momordica elegans, Momordica sinensis, Momordica operculata, Momordica indica, Momordica chinensis
Common Name: Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Bitter Cucumber, Balsam Pear, Leprosy Gourd, La-kwa, Peria Laut, 苦瓜
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Climber, Vine and Liana


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana


Native Distribution Pantropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A monoecious, herbaceous annual. It is a climber and has a twining growth form and climbs with the aid of tendrils. 
Foliage The leaves are simple, palmately veined with a lobed and crenate margin and are alternately arranged along the stem. 
Flowers The flowers are solitary and yellow. 
Fruits The fruit is a pepo and is ovate-elliptical to elongate-fusiform. Chinese varieties are densely covered in warty bumps, while Indian varieties tend to be spikey. The immature fruit is green with white seeds. The fruit turns orange when mature and splits open from top down to reveal bright red seeds. 
Cultivation Seeds may take 5 to 7 days to germinate. Depending on the varieties, the plant may take 50 to 60 days to mature. Grow the plant in a sunny location with a support or trellis.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The immature fruits are often cooked and eaten as a vegetable. They are rich in vitamins A and C. To reduce the bitter taste, the sliced gourd can be marinated in salt and squeezed to remove the bitter juice. After rinsing the slices, the spongy interior and seeds are removed. They are often stir-fried, stuffed with minced pork, fried with eggs or added to soups.)
Medicinal ( The fruits are used in folk medicine to treat diabetes. Its juice is applied externally to treat skin disorders and its juice is drunk as a cure for arthritis, rheumatism and asthma. Studies have shown that eating the fruits may help in lowering blood glucose levels. )

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed
Seed or Spore Germination Duration From 5
Seed or Spore Germination Duration To 7
Seed or Spore Germination Duration Unit Days


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Crenate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Orange, Green
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Bumpy / Tuberculate
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 156
Species ID 1452
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 23 October 2020.