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Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey. ex Naudin

Family Name: Cucurbitaceae
Synonyms: Cucumis tinneanus Kotschy & Peyr.
Common Name: African Horned Cucumber, Kiwano, Jelly Melon, 刺角瓜
Full Sun: 6-8h Little Water Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Ornamental Flowers Dry Soils / Drought 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
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 3 m


Native Distribution Southern and Central Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Desert / Arid
Local Conservation Status 1 Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Climbing herbaceous vine up to 3 m long. 
Foliage The leaves are egg- to heart-shaped (10 cm long, 9 cm wide) and usually have 3-5 lobes. The veins on the underside are roughly hairy.  
Flowers Male and female flowers occur on the same plant. Female, light green flowers are always solitary, while male green to light yellow flowers may be solitary or occur in clusters of up to 4.
Fruits The yellow, spiky fruits are cylindrical or shaped like an ellipsoid (6-15 cm long, 3-6 cm wide). They contain a mass of flat, ellipsoid seeds coated in a light green jelly.
Associated Fauna In its native habitat, birds, rodents and small mammals consume the jelly-coated seeds which provide an important source of water.
Cultivation It grows best in sandy soil which is watered regularly.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : There are bitter forms which may be toxic and non-bitter forms which are edible. The taste of non-bitter forms has been described as bland, sour, or a combination of pineapple and banana. The jelly-coated seeds can be consumed raw or added to fruit salads. The fruit pulp can be pickled or made into a jelly.)
Medicinal ( The African tribe known as 'Shona' use a root decoction to relieve pain after childbirth.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Small Gardens, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Spines/Thorns - Fruit

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Little Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Potential Problems Susceptible to white flies and mildew. Relatively resistant to most insect pests.
Propagation Method Seed

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden, Green - Light Green
Flower Grouping Solitary

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Yellow / Golden
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Thorny / Spiny
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 32704
Species ID 7116
Species record last updated on: 17 May 2019.