Trichosanthes kirilowii – Chinese Snake Gourd

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Scientific Name

Trichosanthes kirilowii Maxim.

Common Names

Chinese Snake Gourd, Chinese Cucumber

Synonyms

Anguina kirilowii, Eopepon aurantiacus, Eopepon vitifolius, Trichosanthes obtusiloba, Trichosanthes palmata, aTrichosanthes vitifolia

Scientific Classification

Family: Cucurbitaceae
Tribe: Sicyoeae
Genus: Trichosanthes

Flower

Color: White
Bloom Time: June to September

Description

Trichosanthes kirilowii is a perennial herbaceous vine growing up to 20 feet (6 m). Stems are with ridges and 2 to 3 tendrils. Leaves are alternate. Blades are wide ovate-cordate, up to 5.6 inches (14 cm) long, and with 3 to 5 shallow to deep lobes and equal length and width. Male flowers grow at the 1/3 of upper end and 3 to 8 flowers form racemes. Female flowers are solitary and with up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) peduncle. Fruit is oval to spherical, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, with orange fruit flesh. Seeds are flat oval, up to 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) long and up to 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) wide. It flowers from June to September, and fruits from September to October.

Trichosanthes kirilowii - Chinese Snake Gourd

Photo via blog.donga.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

First of all, Snake Gourds need a trellis or something that they can grow up — arbor, chain link fence, etc. Make sure the structure is sturdy due to the weight of the large gourds. Start the seeds indoors early after soaking overnight to increase germination time. Transplant outside much as you would bean plants in well mixed organic matter and topsoil.

Seeds can be saved for the following season but toss out any light colored or white seeds. Keep and plant many more seeds than you think you may need, as the germination rate is only about 60 percent.

Snake Gourd care is similar to that of most other gourds. Prune the plant’s lateral branches to increase fruit set and production. Some people tie a pebble or other weight to the flower end of the gourd to foster a straighter fruit, but this is just for aesthetics. There is no need to do so.

Harvest Snake Gourds when young, around 40-50 days from planting. The long varietals may then be ready when only 16-18 inches, while the shorter cultivars will be around 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Snake Gourd Plant.

Origin

Native to China (found particularly in Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Shanxi, and Shaanxi).

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