Herb: Malabar Gourd

Latin name: Cucurbita ficifolia

Synonyms: Cucurbita melanosperma

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Malabar Gourd:

The seeds are vermifuge. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used. This is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children.

Description of the plant:

Perennial Climber

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Malabar Gourd:

Fruit - cooked. Best used when young, at that stage it can be used like a cucumber. The mature fruits are sometimes boiled and eaten. A confection is made from the flesh by boiling it with crude sugar. The mature fruit can be stored for 2 years or more and becomes sweeter with storage. The fruit is up to 35cm in diameter. 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 is delicious when roasted and eaten like peanuts. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is rich in oleic acid.

Other uses of the herb:

The shell of the mature fruit is very hard and it can be used as a container.

Propagation of Malabar Gourd:

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 the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Cucurbita ficifolia:

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.