Herb: Wax Gourd


Latin name: Benincasa hispida


Synonyms: Benincasa cerifera


Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)



Medicinal use of Wax Gourd:

The wax gourd has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years in the Orient. All parts of the fruit are used medicinally. The rind of the fruit is diuretic. It is taken internally in the treatment of urinary dysfunction, summer fevers etc. The ashes of the rind are applied to painful wounds. The seed is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative and tonic. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of vaginal discharges and coughs. In combination with Rheum palmatum it is used to treat intestinal abscesses. In Ayurvedic medicine the seed is used in the treatment of coughs, fevers, excessive thirst and to expel tapeworms. The oil from the seed is also used as an anthelmintic. The fruit is antiperiodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, laxative and tonic. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of epilepsy, lung diseases, asthma, coughs etc. The fruit juice is used in the treatment of insanity, epilepsy and other nervous diseases. Recent research has shown that the fruits contain anti-cancer terpenes. An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea. Demulcent, salve. Facilitates pus drainage.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
6 m
(20 feet)

Flovering:
July to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Wax Gourd:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Used as a vegetable, and in pickles, curries and preserves. The fruit can be eaten when it is young or old, it can be picked as early as one week after fertilization. A juicy texture with a mild flavour, the flavour is somewhat stronger in younger fruits. Because of its waxy coating, it will store for several months, sometimes as long as a year. Mature fruits can vary in weight from 2 - 50 kg. A nutritional analysis is available. Young leaves and flower buds are steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or are added as a flavouring to soups. Seed - cooked. Rich in oil and protein.

Other uses of the herb:

A wax that coats the fruit is used to make candles. The roots have considerable resistance to soil-borne diseases and they are sometimes used as a rootstock for melons and other cucurbits.

Propagation of Wax Gourd:

Seed - sow March/April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on fast in a rich compost in the greenhouse. Try to maintain a minimum night temperature of at least 10C for the seedlings first few weeks. Plant out in May/June after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Benincasa hispida:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.