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Useful Tropical Plants

Cucumis metulifer

E.Mey. ex Naudin

Cucurbitaceae


The name of this species is sometimes mis-spelt as Cucumis metuliferus[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The spelling has been corrected to reflect the proper Latin termination (Vienna ICBN Art. 32.7) for the masculine form of this adjectival epithet (see also W. T. Stearn, Botanical Latin ed. 4:91. 1992)

+ Synonyms

Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey. ex Naudin

Cucumis tinneanus Kotschy & Peyr.

Common Name: Horned Cucumber

Cucumis metulifer
A compilation, showing the ripening fruit, fully ripe and cut open.
Photograph by: Owoce Kiwano
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Cucumis metulifer Cucumis metulifer Cucumis metulifer Cucumis metulifer

General Information

Horned cucumber is a vigorous, annual, climbing plant producing stems up to 3 metres long. The stems scramble over the ground, climbing into the surrounding vegetation where they attach themselves by means of tendrils[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant is gathered from the wild for local us as a food and medicine. Improved cultivars have been developed and the plant is sometimes cultivated commercially for its fruit in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The plant has been developed especially in New Zealand, Kenya and Israel as a commercial fruit which has become fashionable in W European markets[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Known Hazards

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
].
Bitter-tasting fruits are often considered to be toxic by local people[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
A significant proportion of wild-growing horned cucumber plants encountered in southern Africa are bitter-fruited and have caused poisoning. Bitter mature fruits may remain completely intact on the plants, as neither baboons nor other wildlife eat them. The amount of bitterness varies in immature and mature fruits on the same plant, with younger fruits having a less bitter taste. Bitterness is due primarily to the presence of cucurbitacins, bitter and toxic compounds occurring in Cucurbitaceae. Cucurbitacins can cause severe illness and death, due to their potent action as purgatives and laxatives[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Tropical Africa.

Habitat

Semi-evergreen forest, woodland, wooded grassland and grassland, also on abandoned cultivated land, often riverine at elevations of 300 - 1,100 metres[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual Climber
Height1.50 m
PollinatorsInsects
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Horned melon is a warm-season grower in tropical to subtropical and warm temperate regions, and does not tolerate cold conditions. It occurs at elevations from near sea level to 1,800 metres. A semi-arid climate with a warm-season rainfall regime appears to enhance the fruit ripening stage, allowing fruits to develop their full flavour[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a very warm, sunny sheltered position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Plants tolerate a wide range of soil types throughout their natural distribution area[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Flowering starts about 8 weeks after sowing the seed, with male flowers appearing first, followed after several days by female flowers[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Under field conditions, time from sowing to harvest is around 15 weeks[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
In New Zealand growers harvest up to 20 tonnes of fruit per hectare, in California about 8 tonnes whilst growers in Israel have harvested up to 46 tonnes[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Sweet-fruited plants reseed themselves with little management and protection in Zimbabwe. The fruits continue to be sweet, barring the occasional pollination by bitter-fruited wild plants[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Fruits of horned melon in southern Africa continue ripening after the cessation of the rainy season, long after the stems have died back[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
There are some named varieties.
This species does not hybridize with other members of the genus[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Used in salads in some parts of Africa[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. These are many, differing reports on the flavour of the fruit - this depends largely upon the state of ripeness at which the fruit is eaten and the cultivar that is eaten[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Some forms are insipid, whilst others, especially from wild forms, can be rather bitter[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. The better, cultivated forms often look and taste like cucumbers if eaten when immature, whilst mature fruits may develop a sweet dessert-fruit flavour[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A succulent, green pulp with a slightly sweet flavour[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. The ripe fruit is cut open and sprinkled with sugar, which enhances the flavour considerably[
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
]. Said to have a banana-lime flavour and often sold in speciality stores in Europe and America, the fruit is not considered to be very desirable in its native area and it is only eaten in times of scarcity[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The bright orange, ovoid fruit is covered with numerous prominent spines, it can be 15 - 22cm long[
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
].

Seed - raw[
57
Title
Plants for Man.
Publication
 
Author
Schery. R. W.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
,
86
Title
Gourds.
Publication
 
Author
Organ. J.
Publisher
Faber
Year
1963
ISBN
-
Description
Deals with squashes and their relatives. Interesting and readable, it gives cultivation techniques and some details of plant uses.
,
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
]. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Medicinal

The seeds are vermifuge[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
]. They are ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purge in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
].

The root is used for the relief of pain following childbirth[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The fruit is said to possess medico-magical properties and is used to treat eruptive fevers in ‘Sakpata voodoo’ rituals[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The decorticated fruit macerated in distilled palm wine or lemon juice is used to treat smallpox and skin rashes[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Cucumis metuliferus contains cucurbitacin B, a triterpene known to exhibit cytotoxic, antitumor and anti-inflammatory activities[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

Used as a rootstock for C. sativus, conferring disease resistance[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Since this species is less cold tolerant than C, sativus, it is probably not suitable as a rootstock in cool temperate areas.

Propagation

Seed - can be sown in situ or in individual pots and then planted out when the plant has two true leaves[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The seed germinates in 3 - 8 days at a temperature of 20 - 35°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Germination is completely inhibited below 8°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

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