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Momordica Balsamina

The fruit of both varieties is edible, though a bitter principle gives it such an intensely bitter taste that it is intolerable to the unaccustomed palate.

NOM. VULG.—Ampalaya, Ampalea, Tag.; Amargoso, Sp.-Fil.; Paria, Iloc.; Apalia, Pam.; Balsamina, Sp.; Balsam Apple, Eng.

M. charanta, L. (M. muricata, Willd.; M. cylindrica, Blanco.) NOM. VULG.—The same as of M. balsamina.

USES.—The fruit of both varieties is edible, though a bitter principle gives it such an intensely bitter taste that it is intolerable to the unaccustomed palate. It is eaten raw as a salad, or cooked with meat or fish. The juice of the leaves is prescribed internally as a purgative and anthelmintic. In Concan it is given alone or combined with aromatics, in bilious disorders as an emetic and purgative; externally they use it as an ointment for the itch and other skin diseases; in India it is mixed with cinnamon, pepper, rice and oil of Hydnocarpus inebrians, Vahl.

The fruit and leaves are used internally for worms and externally for leprosy.

Some Hindoo writers state that the fruit is tonic and stomachic, and that it is useful in rheumatism, gout, diseases of the liver and spleen.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—The first variety, M. balsamina, more common than the second, is a vine with angular stem and simple tendrils. Leaves, many serrate lobules with white dots on the ends. Flowers yellow, monoecious. Staminate solitary, peduncles very long, involucre cordate; calyx 5-lobed; corolla 5 petals; filaments simple, one separate, 2 approximated; anthers joined at their bases.

Pistillate solitary; ovary, 3 locules and numerous ovules; stigma, 3 bifid divisions; fruit globose, narrowing at the ends, covered with tubercles; seeds numerous, lacking albumen, having red aril.

The second variety, M. cylindrica, has a downy stem, 5-angled with simple tendrils. The leaves are 5-lobuled, cordate, serrate, with short hairs on under surface. Melon hollow, glabrous, very long, cylindrical, tapering at the ends, covered with tubercles, some elevated in longitudinal lines, others depressed; seeds in 3 rows, enveloped in pulpy arils, white, long quadrangular, truncate above, encircled by 2 rows of obtuse toothlets.

HABITAT.—Both grow in all parts and are well known.

Reference book: The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines

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