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Useful Tropical Plants

Citrullus colocynthis

(L.) Schrad.

Cucurbitaceae

+ Synonyms

Cucumis colocynthis L.

Common Name: Colocynth

Citrullus colocynthis
Cultivated fruit
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Citrullus colocynthis Citrullus colocynthis Citrullus colocynthis Citrullus colocynthis Citrullus colocynthis

General Information

Colocynth is a perennial plant with a woody, tuberous rootstock from which grow long trailing or climbing stems[
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 plant has long been valued for its medicinal uses and is cultivated in some regions for this purpose[
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.
,
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.
].

Known Hazards

The plant contains a number of potentially toxic compounds and can be harmful if used in quantity. These compounds include elatermidine, glycosides, resin, dihydric alcohol, heltiacontane, citrullin and citrullinic acid. Taken in excess they can cause gastrointestinal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, hypothermia, cardiac disorders, cerebral congestion and necrosis of liver and renal cells[
1314
Title
Toxic effect of some medicinal plants used in Moroccan traditional medicine
Publication
Moroccan J. Biol. 2-3 (2006) 21-30
Author
Mohamed Bnouham; Fatima Zahra Merhfour; Mostafa Elachoui; Ab
Publisher
 
Year
2006
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

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.

Range

Northern Africa through Arabia to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Habitat

Sand dunes[
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *
HabitPerennial Climber
Height0.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant found mainly in the drier areas the tropics and subtropics, though it can tolerate high levels of rainfall when cultivated. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 32°c, but can tolerate 14 - 40°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Mature growth can be killed by temperatures of -5°c or lower, but young growth is severely damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 300 - 500mm, but tolerates 250 - 4,300mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a well-drained, light soil and a position in full sun[
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 are very drought hardy[
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 7.5, tolerating 4 - 8[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Productivity is enhanced during dry, sunny periods and reduced during periods of excessive rainfall and high humidity[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - cooked[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They are first boiled in several changes of water to remove a bitter principle, and then made into pickles and preserves[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The fruit is 5 - 8cm in diameter[
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
].

Seed - cooked[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. Eaten roasted or ground into a meal and used to make chapattis[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The dried, unripe fruit pulp constitutes the drug 'colocynth', which is a very strong laxative[
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.
,
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
]. It is also used as an antirheumatic, anthelmintic, hydrogogue, and as a remedy for skin infections[
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.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The fruits and seeds are used in the treatment of diabetes[
1314
Title
Toxic effect of some medicinal plants used in Moroccan traditional medicine
Publication
Moroccan J. Biol. 2-3 (2006) 21-30
Author
Mohamed Bnouham; Fatima Zahra Merhfour; Mostafa Elachoui; Ab
Publisher
 
Year
2006
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The roots have purgative properties and are used in the treatment of jaundice, rheumatism and urinary diseases[
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
].

Some caution should be employed in the use of this remedy, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other Uses

The seeds contain 30 - 34% of a pale yellow oil, which contains an alkaloid, a glucoside and a saponin[
284
Title
Cucurbitaceae
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cucurbit.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site with a wide range of information and some excellent pictures of plants in this family.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2021-06-19. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Citrullus+colocynthis>

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