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Habitat :Citrullus colocynthis : is native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia, especially Turkey , Nubia and Trieste.
Citrullus colocynthis is a perennial plant.It resembles a common watermelon vine but bears small, hard fruits with a bitter pulp. It originally bore the scientific name Colocynthis citrullus, but is now classified as Citrullus colocynthis.
The Colocynth collected from the Maritime Plain between the mountains of Palestine and the Mediterranean, is mainly shipped from Jaffa and known as Turkish Colocynth. This is the best variety.
Roots and stems:
The roots are large, fleshy and perennial leading to a high survival rate thanks to the long tap root. The vine-like stems spread in all directions for a few meters looking for something to climb over. If present, shrubs and herbs are preferred and climbed by means of axiliary branching tendrils.
Very similar to watermelon leaves: they are palmed, angular with 3-7 divided lobes.
Flowers:...click to see
The flowers are yellow and solitary in the axes of leaves and are borne by yellow-greenish peduncles. Each has a subcampanulated five-lobed corolla and a five-parted calyx. They are monoecious therefore the male (stamens) and the female reproductive parts (pistils and ovary) are borne in different flowers on the same plant. The male flowers’ calyx is shorter than the corolla. They have 5 stamens, 4 of which are coupled and 1 is single with monadelphous anther. The female flowers have 3 staminoids and a 3-carpels ovary. The two sexes are distinguishable by observing the globular and hairy inferior ovary of the female flowers.
Fruits: click to see….>...(1)….(2)…..(3).
The fruit is smooth, spheric with a 5–10 cm diameter and extremely bitter at taste. The calyx englobe the yellow-green fruit which becomes marble (yellow stripes) at maturity. The mesocarp is filled with a soft, dry and spongy white pulp, in which the seeds are embedded. Each of the 3 carpels bears 6 seeds. Each plant produces 15 to 30 fruits.
The seeds are grey and 5 mm long and 3 mm wide. They are edible but similarly bitter, nutty-flavored and rich in fat and protein. They are eaten whole or used as an oilseed. The oil content of the seeds is 17–19% (w/w), consisting of 67–73% linoleic acid, 10–16% oleic acid, 5–8% stearic acid, and 9–12% palmitic acid. It is estimated that the oil yield is approximately 400 L/hectare. In addition, the seeds contain a higher amount of arginine, tryptophan and the sulfur-containing amino
Citrullus colocynthis is a perennial plant that can propagate both by generative and vegetative means. However, seed germination is poor due to the extreme xeric conditions, therefore the vegetative propagation is more common and successful in nature. In the Indian arid zone the growth takes place between January and October but the most favorable period for the vegetative growth is during summer, which coincides with the rainy season. The growth declines as soon as the rains and the temperature decrease and almost stops during the cold and dry months of December and January. Colocynth prefers sandy soils and is a good example of good water management which may be useful also on research to better understand how desert plants react to water stress. To enhance production, an organic fertilizer can be applied. Colocynth is also commonly cultivated together with cassava (intercropping) in Nigeria.
Cultivated colocynth suffers of climatic stress and diseases such as cucumber mosaic virus, melon mosaic virus, Fusarium wilt, etc. as any other crop. To improve it, a relatively new protocol for regeneration[disambiguation needed] has been developed with the aim of incorporating disease and stress resistance to increase yield potential and security avoiding interspecific hybridization barriers.
Constituents: The pulp contains Colocynthin, extractive, a fixed oil, a resinous substance insoluble in ether, gum, pectic acid or pectin, calcium and magnesium phosphates, lignin and water.
Medicinal Action and Uses:
Dried pulp of unripe fruit is used medicinally for its drastic purgative and hydragogue cathartic action on the intestinal tract. When the fruit is ripe its pulp dries to form a powder used as a bitter medicine and drastic purgative. So strong that it is mostly used only in combination with other herbs. The pulp or leaves is a folk remedy for cancerous tumors. A decoction of the whole plant, made in juice of fennel, is said to help indurations of the liver. Roots may also be used as purgative against ascites, for jaundice, urinary diseases, rheumatism, and for snake-poison. The colocynth is also used for amenorrhea, ascites, bilious disorders, cancer, fever, jaundice, leukemia, rheumatism, snakebite, tumors (especially of the abdomen), and urogenital disorders. The plant figures into remedies for cancer, carcinoma, endothelioma, leukemia, corns, tumors of the liver and spleen, even the eye.
It is seldom prescribed alone. It is of such irritant nature that severe pain is caused if the powdered drug be applied to the nostrils; it has a nauseous, bitter taste and is usually given in mixture form with the tinctures of podophylum and belladonna. Colocynth fruits broken small are useful for keeping moth away from furs, woollens, etc
Known Hazards: It is a powerful drastic hydragogue cathartic producing, when given in large doses, violent griping with, sometimes, bloody discharges and dangerous inflammation of the bowels. Death has resulted from a dose of 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the powder.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider