Hedgehog Cucumber
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Hedgehog Cucumber
A Native Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
Common name: Hedgehog Cucumber, Teasel Gourd
Botanical name: Cucumis dipsaceus    Family: Cucurbitaceae (Pumpkin family)
Synonyms: Cucumis bardana, Momordica dasycarpa, Cucumis ambigua

Hedgehog Cucumber is a herbaceous annual vine, creeping or climbing by tendrils, which attains 1.5 m in length. Stems are much branched, slender, angular, grooved, bristly on the angular margins; tendrils simple, longer than the leaves. Leaves are alternate; blades 2.5-7.5 x 2-7 cm, ovate or trilobed, the lobes blunt, the base heart-shaped, the tip blunt, the margins toothed or entire; upper surface dull, rough; lower surface pale green, dull, rough, with prominent venation and bristlyulous; leaf-stalks grooved, bristlyulous or bristly, 1.5-5 cm long. Flowers are solitary, male flowers sometimes in fascicles in leaf-axils; calyx bell-shaped, 3.6-5.2 mm long, bristlyulous, sepals narrowly oblong or linear, 1.6-4 mm long, bristlyulous. Flowers are pale yellow, bell-shaped, bristlyulous outside, the tube 1-1.5 mm long, the lobes obovate, pointed, 5.5-8.5 mm long. Fruit is ellipsoid or spherical, densely covered with spines about 1 cm long, 3-6.5 cm long, pale yellow; seeds numerous, elliptical, cream-colored, 4-5 mm long. is found in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Southern Egypt) and India (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). Flowering: November-February.
Medicinal uses: Leaves and roots are pounded and used as a poultice to treat wounds. The juice from the fruits is used as an antidote for poisoning, but it has to be supplemented by drinking fresh milk.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in the Outskirts of Coimbatore, Distt.Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

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