2- The main important species of the Genus Momordica
2.1-Species Momordica balsamina L. - Africa cucumber + Overview Momordica balsamina L. is a tendril-bearing annualvine native to the tropical regions of Africa, introduced and invasive in Asia, Australia, and Central America. It has pale yellow, deeply veined flowers and round, somewhat warty, bright orange fruits, or "apples". When ripe, the fruits burst apart, revealing numerous seeds covered with a brilliant scarlet, extremely sticky coating. The balsam apple was introduced intoEurope by 1568 and was used medicinally to treat wounds. In 1810, Thomas Jefferson planted this vine in his flower borders at Monticello along with larkspur, poppies, and nutmeg. The outer rind and the seeds of the fruit are poisonous. +The Names Momordica balsaminaand the related Momordica charantia share some common names: "African cucumber", "balsam apple", and "balsam pear". Other names for Momordica balsamina are "balsamina" or "southern balsam pear". It is known in Africa under a broad range of names, e.g. in Mozambique as cacana and in South Africa as nkaka.
2.2- Species Momordica charantia L. - Bitter Melon + Overview Momordica charantiaL., known asBitter melon, bitter gourd,bitter squashorbalsam-pear inEnglish, has manyother local names.Goya fromOkinawanandkarelafromSanskritare also used by English-language speakers. It is atropicalandsubtropicalvineof the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown inAsia,Africa, and theCaribbeanfor its ediblefruit, which is extremely bitter. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit. Bitter melon originated on the Indian subcontinent, and was introduced into China in the 14th century. + Description Thisherbaceous,tendril-bearing vine grows to 5 m. It bears simple,alternateleaves 4-12 cm across, with three to seven deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. In the Northern Hemisphere, flowering occurs during June to July and fruiting during September to November. The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large, flat seeds and pith. The fruit is most often eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the fruit's flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar tocucumber,chayoteor greenbell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking. As the fruit ripens, the flesh (rind) becomes somewhat tougher and more bitter, and many consider it too distasteful to eat. On the other hand, the pith becomes sweet and intensely red; it can be eaten uncooked in this state, and is a popular ingredient in some Southeast Asiansalads. When the fruit is fully ripe, it turns orange and mushy, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. + Varieties Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The cultivar common to China is 20-30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. It is green to white in color. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6-10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in Bangladesh, India (common name 'Karela'), Pakistan, Nepal and other countries in South Asia. The sub-continent variety is most popular in Bangladesh and India.
2.3- Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng. - Gac + Overview Momordica cochinchinensis(Lour.) Spreng.-Gacis aSoutheast Asianfruitfound throughout the region from SouthernChinato NortheasternAustralia, includingThailand,Laos,Myanmar,Cambodia andVietnam. It is commonly known asGacfrom the Vietnamesegấcorquả gấc (quảbeing a classifier for spherical objects such as fruit). It is known asmùbiēguǒinChineseand variously asred melon,babyjackfruit,spiny bitter gourdorcochinchin gourdin English. In Thai, it is pronouncedfahk khaoandtaw thabu inMyanmar. + Growth Gac or Red Melon, grows ondioeciousvinesand is usually collected from fence climbers or from wild plants. The vines can be commonly seen growing on lattices at the entrances to rural homes or in gardens. It only fruits once a year, and is found seasonally in local markets. The fruit itself becomes a dark orange color upon ripening, and is typically round or oblong, maturing to a size of about 13 cm in length and 10 cm in diameter. Its exterior skin is covered in small spines while its dark red interior consists of clusters of fleshy pulp and seeds. + Traditional uses Traditionally, gac has been used as both food and medicine in the regions in which it grows. Other than the use of its fruit and leaves for special Vietnamese culinary dishes, gac is also used for its medicinal and nutritional properties. In Vietnam, the seed membranes are said to aid in the relief of dry eyes, as well as to promote healthy vision. Similarly, in traditional Chinese medicine the seeds of gac, known in Mandarin Chinese as mùbiēzǐ, are employed for a variety of internal and external purposes.
2.5- Momordica dioica Roxb. ex Willd - Spine gourd + Overview Species Momordica dioicaRoxb. ex Willd., commonly known asspiny gourdand also known askantola, is a species of flowering plant in thegourd family. Spine gourd is a highly nutritious and underutilized vegetable containing high amount of protein as compared to other cucurbitaceous vegetables. It is used as avegetablein all regions of India and some parts inSouth Asia. It has commercial importance and is exported and used locally. The fruits are cooked with spices,or fried and sometimes eaten with meat or fish. + Characteristics Twenty-six accessions of spine gourd (Momordica dioica Roxb. ex Willd.), collected from eastern India, were evaluated to study the diversity and other genetic parameters. The estimates of genotypic coefficient of variation and phenotypic coefficient of variation for all the characters indicated that selection can be done on the basis of phenotype alone. On the basis of cluster analysis, spine gourd accessions can be categorized into three distinct groups. The accessions of spine gourd from eastern India showed an immense variation and can be used as a potential source of germplasm for crop improvement. The results presented here on nature and magnitude of genetic variability and diversity existing in this species will provide the foundation for designing an efficient spine gourd breeding programme. As spine gourd is distributed widely almost throughout India, further collections from Peninsular and Western India are suggested for maximum diversity sampling.
2.6- Momordica enneaphylla Cogn. + Overview Momordica enneaphyllais a species ofplantin theCucurbitaceaefamily. It is found in Cameroon, theDemocratic Republic of the Congo, andGabon. Its naturalhabitatsare subtropical or tropical moist lowlandforestsand subtropical or tropicalswamps. It is threatened byhabitat loss. + Ecology and Habitat This little known species was first collected in Gabon, being described in 1888. Found in primary forest, including riverine and swamp forest; occasionally in secondary forest growth; 450-1,070 m alt. Collections from the Democratic Republic of Congo are all from the central Congo Basin. In Cameroon, the discovery of two sites in the Kupe-Bakossi area, on Mt Kupe above Kupe Village and at Ngomboku in the Bakossi Mts, extends this species’ range northwestwards. On Mt Kupe, this species is recorded in forest down to 900 m , which is below the lower limit of effective protection on this mountain, thus this subpopulation is threatened by forest clearance. Source: Momordica enneaphylla.2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
2.7- Momordica foetida Schumach. + Overview Momordica foetidais aperennialclimbingvinenative of tropicalAfrica, closely related to the bitter melon(Momordica charantia) andbalsam apple(Momordica balsamina). Its species name ("bad-smelling") refers to its unpleasant smell. It was previously namedMomordica morkorra(A. Rich)andMomordica cordata (Cogn.). The plant grows in forest edges and similar habitats (including disturbed and cultivated land), woodland, and woodedgrassland. Its leaves are wrinkled, heart-shaped with irregular edges, up to 18 cm wide. The flowers are yellow to yellow-orange. The fruit is aprolate spheroid, 3.5-7.5 cm long and 2.5-5 cm wide, bright orange and covered with soft spines. When fully ripe it splits from the bottom into three valves, exposing a cluster of black seeds, individually covered by a bright red, sticky, sweet pulp. The plant has perennialtuberousroots. + Uses - Food uses The leaves have a bitter taste but it is eaten in GabonandMalawi. The fruit is edible and is consumed in various countries, includingGhana, Gabon,SudanandTanganyika. The root is considered edible in Sudan. - Folk medicine Like its relative M. charantia, the plant contains a number of bioactive compounds, including sitosterylglucoside, 5,25-stigmastadien-3β-yl glucoside, and 1β-hydroxyfriedel-6-en-3-one, and several cucurbitane-type triterpenoid derivatives.