Botanical Name: Herpetospermum pedunculosum
Genus: Herpetospermum Wall. ex Benth. & Hook.f.
Species: Herpetospermum pedunculosum C.B.Clarke
*Bryonia pedunculosa Ser.
*Herpetospermum caudigerum Wall.
*Herpetospermum grandiflorum Cogn.
*Rampinia herpetospermoides C. B. Clarke
Common names: Himalayan Bitter Gourd
- Hindi: Ban Karelaa, Beej Karela
- Nepali: Kurakure Kaakro, Muramure, Pitta Kaakari, Ban Karelaa
Habitat: Herpetospermum pedunculosum is native to E. Asia – Himalayas to China and Tibet. It grows in the forest edges, especially along trails at elevations of 1000 – 3000 metres in Nepal. Thickets and forest sides on mountain slopes at elevations of 2300 – 2500 metres in Tibet.
Herpetospermum pedunculosum is a large herbaceous annual climber on shrubs and banks, with long branched tendrils. Leaves ovate-heart-shaped, acute or long-pointed, often coarsely and shallowly lobed, rough-hairy, long-stalked. Flowers are large, bright yellow, unisexual. Male flowers clustered; female flowers solitary. The flowers are 4-5 cm across, and consists of a slender funnel-shaped tube and spreading elliptic petals. The fruit is ellipsoid, 7-8 × 3-4 cm, fibrous, finely hairy. Himalayan Bitter Gourd is found in the Himalayas from Uttarakhand to Bhutan, S. Tibet, Assam, SW China, at altitudes of 1500-3600 m.
It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
The clinbewr could be grown outdoors at least in the milder areas of the country. Judging by its native habitat, it is likely to prefer growing along a warm sunny woodland border .
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving them some winter protection for at least their first winter outdoors – a simple pane of glass is usually sufficient.
Edible Uses: Seed – fried and then eaten.
Medicinal uses: ( Warning: Unverified information) The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency. Anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, choleretic and febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of piles, inflammation of the stomach and the intestines. The pounded root is used to treat problems of the bile ducts.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.