Momordica cochinchinensis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng.

Protologue: Syst. veg. 3: 14 (1826).


  • Muricia cochinchinensis Lour. (1790),
  • Momordica mixta Roxb. (1832),
  • Momordica meloniflora Hand.-Mazz. (1921).

Vernacular names

  • Sweet gourd, spiny bitter cucumber, giant spine gourd (En).
  • Muricie (Fr)
  • Indonesia: pupia (Malay, Moluccas), torobuk, toropu (North Halmahera)
  • Malaysia: teruah
  • Philippines: buyok-buyok (Tagalog), paruk-paruk (Ilocano), taboguak (Bikol)
  • Cambodia: makkao
  • Laos: khua mak 'khao2, cup 'khoa2'nhai1
  • Thailand: fak-khao (central), phak-khao (northern), khika-khrua (southern)
  • Vietnam: dây gấc (general), trái gấc, mộc miết tử.


M. cochinchinensis is found wild and cultivated from India to Indo-China, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, scattered throughout the Malesian region (reported from Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, Sulawesi, Bali and the Moluccas, but probably present elsewhere as well) and in northern Australia (Cape York peninsula).


See under genus treatment for the numerous medicinal uses. The immature fruits are a well-known vegetable. The seeds contain an oil which is used as an illuminant in Indo-China and may be applied in the formulation of paint and varnishes. The roots froth in water and may be used as a soap and to kill head lice. In Vietnam the aril of the seeds is used as a colouring agent for rice, called "steamed momordica glutinous rice".


A dioecious, perennial vine arising from a tuberous root; stem robust, angular, tendrils simple; leaf blade suborbicular in outline, 12-20 cm in diameter, deeply palmately 3(-5)-lobed, cordate and with some glands at base, lobes subovate with entire or subdentate margins, glabrous, petiole with 2-5 glands near the middle; flowers solitary, about 8 cm in diameter, yellow, but blackish at base inside; male flowers on a peduncle 5-30 cm long bearing an apical, suborbicular, sessile bract, 3-4 cm × 4-5 cm, pedicel 3-10 mm long; female flowers similar but with a smaller bract; fruit 10-20 cm × 6-10 cm, yellow, turning red at maturity, densely covered with small tubercles; seeds about 25 mm × 20 mm × 5 mm, brown, testa sculptured. M. cochinchinensis is locally abundant in forest margins, along rivers, in open places, and in disturbed locations, at low altitudes.

Selected sources

169, 287, 363, 721, 776, 1000, 1024, 1026, 1035, 1128, 1178, 1216, 1223, 1443, 1629.


Nguyen Huu Hien & Sri Hayati Widodo