Trichosanthes cucumerina L.
Snake Gourd, Annual Gourd, Serpent Gourd, Chichinga, Padwal, Snake Tomato, Chinese Cucumber, Club Gourd, Gudda Bean, Serpent Cucumber, Viper's Gourd
Anguina cucumerina, Cucumis anguinus, Involucraria anguina, Trichosanthes ambrozii, Trichosanthes anguina, Trichosanthes brevibracteata, Trichosanthes pachyrrhachis, Trichosanthes pedatifolia
Bloom Time: Summer
Trichosanthes cucumerina is an annual climber raised for its strikingly long fruit used as a vegetable and medicine. The leaves are kidney-shaped, rich green, and up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long. White flowers (male and female) bloom in summer, followed by yellowish-green fruits with red seeds. The narrow soft-skinned fruits can reach up to 6 feet (2 m) long.
How to Grow and Care
First of all, Snake Gourds need a trellis or something that they can grow up — an 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's 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 about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Snake Gourd Plant.
This species is native to India.
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