Trichosanthes kirilowii Maxim.
Chinese Snake Gourd, Chinese Cucumber
Anguina kirilowii, Eopepon aurantiacus, Eopepon vitifolius, Trichosanthes obtusiloba, Trichosanthes palmata, aTrichosanthes vitifolia
Bloom Time: June to September
Trichosanthes kirilowii is a perennial herbaceous vine that grows up to 20 feet (6 m) tall. 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 the upper end, and 3 to 8 flowers form racemes. Female flowers are solitary and with up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) peduncle. The fruit is oval to spherical, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, with orange fruit flesh. Seeds are flat oval, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long, and up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) wide. It flowers from June to September, and fruits from September to October.
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 lower 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.
Native to China (found mainly in Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Shanxi, and Shaanxi).
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