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Karela (Momordiaca charantia Linn.)

Pankaj Oudhia
Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
28-A, Geeta Nagar, Raipur - 492001 India
pankajoudhia@gmail.com
www.pankajoudhia.com

Copyright © 2004. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Karela (Momordiaca charantia Linn.)

Scientific Name: Momordica charantia Linn.
Family: Cucurbitaceae
English Name: Bitter Gourd.
Hindi Name: Karela.

General Description: It is under cultivation for its fruits which are used as vegetable. All parts of Karela specially the fruits are used as folk medicine also. Its use in treatment of Diabetes has established it as popular medicinal herb.

Botanical differences among the major Momordica species of India.

  M. charantia M. dioica M. balsamina
Plant A much branched climbing annual a dioecious, perennial climber with a tuberous root A monoecious, much branched, climbing perennial from a tuberous root
Stem Angled, grooved, young parts densely hairy, older branches more or less pubescent slender, glabrous to rarely sparsely pubescent, angled and sulcate slender, glabrous
Leaves almost orbicular or reniform in outiline, lobes ovate-oblong, acute or subacute, apiculate Much variable, membranous, ovate, obtuse or acute and mucronate, lobes triangular Herbaceous or slightly hairy particularly on nerves beneath, lobes rhomboid or obovate to elliptic-rhomboid
Flowers monoecious, male flowers solitary, peduncles slender, glabrous or slightly pubescent; Corolla some what irregular, lemon yellow; Female flowers on 5-10 cm long slender peduncles, bracteate usually at or near the base Male flowers solitary, glabours peduncles which are hairy, Corolla yellow, Female flowers bracteate or ebracteate Monoecious, all solitary; Male flowers on slender, filiform peduncles, glabrous or somewhat hairy towards apex, corolla pale yellow; Female flowers on ebracteate or bracteate penducles
Fruit Bright orange coloured, 5-15 cm long, fusiform, ribbed, with numerous triangular tubercles giving it the appearance of crocodile skin Ellipsoid, shortly beaked, densely echinate with soft spines, apex shortly rostrate and annular, base usually rounded Subglobose to ovoid, with a broad, conical rostrum, abruptly and shortly attenuate at base, bright orange-red to scarlet when ripe
Seeds compressed, oblong, sub-bidentate at base and apex, sculptured on sides, cream or grey-coloured many, much variable in size and shape, turgid, more or less puriforms quite smooth with a carmine red arillus, grey, ovate or oblong in outline, compressed

Useful Parts: Root, leaves and fruit.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: According to Ayurveda, roots are useful in treatment of eye related diseases. The fruit is bitter, cooling, digestible, laxative, antipyretic, anthelmintic, appetizer, cures biliousness, blood diseases, anaemia, urinary discharges, asthma, ulcers, bronchitis etc. According to the Unani system of medicine fruit is very bitter, carminative, tonic, stomachic, aphrodisiac, anthelmintic, astringent to bowels and useful in treatment of syphilis, rheumatism, spleen troubles etc.

References
Agharkar, S.P. (1991). Medicinal plants of Bombay presidency. Pbl. Scientific publishers, Jodhpur, India. 144-145.
Bhandari, M.M. (1990). Flora of Indian desert. Pbl. MPS Repros, Jodhpur, India. 155-157.

Resource Person
Pankaj Oudhia
Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
28-A, Geeta Nagar, Raipur - 492001 India
pankajoudhia@gmail.com
archive.org/details/pankajoudhia
www.youtube.com/user/pankajoudhia?feature=results_main
www.flickr.com/photos/pankajoudhia/


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