Herb: Serpent Melon

Latin name: Cucumis melo flexuosus

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Serpent Melon:

The fruits can be used as a cooling light cleanser or moisturiser for the skin. They are also used as a first aid treatment for burns and abrasions. The flowers are expectorant and emetic. The fruit is stomachic. The seed is antitussive, digestive, febrifuge and vermifuge. When used as a vermifuge, the whole seed complete with the seed coat is 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. The root is diuretic and emetic.

Description of the plant:

Annual Climber

150 cm
(5 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Derived through cultivation, it is not known in a truly wild location.

Edible parts of Serpent Melon:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruits can be more than 1 metre long. They have a flavour rather like cucumber and are very refreshing when eaten raw in hot weather. They can also be added to curries, cooked, preserves or pickled. Seed - raw. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat. The seed contains between 12.5 - 39.1% oil. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks if you are trying them outdoors.

Cultivation of Serpent Melon:

Derived through cultivation, it is not known in a truly wild location.

Known hazards of Cucumis melo flexuosus:

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.