Snake Gourd

Taxonomy, Botany, Cultural Practices, Harvesting, Major Diseases, and Pests

Authored by: Mohammad Pessarakli , A.V.V. Koundinya , M.K. Pandit

Handbook of Cucurbits

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781482234589
eBook ISBN: 9781482234596
Adobe ISBN:


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Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina), also known as snake tomato, viper gourd, and long tomato, is a commonly grown tropical or subtropical annual, climbing, herbaceous vine, raised for its strikingly long fruit, used as a vegetable, medicine, and a lesser known use, crafting didgeridoos. The name snake gourd might have been given due to its long, slender, snake-like fruits. Immature fruits of snake gourd are used for culinary purposes; occasionally, shoots and tender leaves are also used as vegetables. Snake gourd fruits and seeds are nutritive, and they contain essential nutrients and vitamins in appreciable amounts (Table 30.1). It is suitable for diabetic patients due to its low calories and high water content. It can be used against constipation as it is rich in fiber content. Fruits are also rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, which make the plant pharmacologically and therapeutically active (Prabha et al. 2010). T. curcumineria is used as an abortifacient, anthelmintic, stomachic, refrigerant, purgative, laxative, hydragogue, hemagglutinant, emetic, cathartic, in the treatment for malaria and bronchitis (Nadkani 2002; Madhava et al. 2008), and as an antioxidant (Adebooye 2008). It has a promising place in the Ayurvedic and Siddha system of medicine due to its various medicinal values like antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and larvicidal effects (Prabha et al. 2010; Sandhya et al. 2010). The seeds are found to have high crude fat content; hence, its oil is investigated and found suitable for use in biodiesel production (Adesina and Amoo 2014). In Nigeria, snake gourd is substituted for solanaceous tomato not only because of its sweet taste, aroma, and deep red endocarp pulp when fully ripe, which prevents the fruit pulp from turning sour as quickly as tomato paste (Adebooye and Oloyede 2006), but also due to its nutraceutical properties (Adebooye 2008) and medicinal importance (Chuku et al. 2008).

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