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Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng.

Family Name: Cucurbitaceae
Synonyms: Muricia cochinchinensis, Buyok buyok, Momordica macrophylla, Momordica mixta, Momordica ovata
Common Name: Gac Fruit, Da Gac, Spiny Bitter-Cucumber, Chinese Bitter-Cucumber, Chinese-Cucumber, Giant Spiny Gourd, Cochinchin Gourd, Teruah, Torobuk, Pupia, 木鳖, 土木鳖, 木鳖瓜, 大叶木鳖子, 藤桐
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Herb & Spice Ornamental Foliage Climber, Vine and Liana


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution Northeastern India, South China, Taiwan, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Northern Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A dioecious climber with tendrils and can grow up to 3 m tall. 
Foliage Leaves are 3 – 5 lobed with toothed margin. 2 (or 4) glands are present on the petiole. Leaves emit an odour when crushed. 
Flowers Male and female flower are borne on different individuals of the plant. Flower bud is hidden inside a bag –like appendage that, as time passes, splits into two to reveal the bud within. Each flower has 5 pale yellow petals with a black spot in the middle of the flower.  Female flower, after being pollinated  by male flower,  will produce fruit. 
Fruits Fruit is  round or oblong (about 15 – 20 cm long), turning from green to yellow to dark orange when matured. Numerous small spines are present on the fruit surface. Pulp inside the fruit is reddish orange.  
Etymology Genus epithet 'Momordica’ means "to bite", referring to the etched, bitten appearance of seeds produced by plants of this genus. Species epithet 'cochinchinensis' refers to Cochinchina, an old name for Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, one of the places where this plant is naturally distributed. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits, Edible Leaves, Edible Stems)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The red pulp is used as red colourant and flavour to make ‘xoi gac’, a traditional rice dish commonly served during weddings and celebrations in Vietnam. Pulp has a nutty after taste and temporarily dyes lips and tongue bright orange. Young leaves and shoot can also be eaten when cooked. ;Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( Fruit and seed are used in folk medicine to treat a variety of illnesses. )

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Vertical Greenery / Green Wall
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Unknown / Unselect
Propagation Method Seed, Storage Organ
Propagule Establishment Remarks Pierce hard seed coat and soak seeds overnight in warm water, before sowing.
Propagation Method Remarks Can be propagated by tuberous roots.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Cream / Off-White
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Modification Foliar Tendril
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Palmately Lobed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cordate
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Root Tuber)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Symmetry Radial
Ovary Position Inferior / Epipgynous
Flowering Period Once Yearly
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Orange, Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Pepo

Image Repository



Master ID 29132
Species ID 3441
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: 03 July 2020.

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