Identification Help Please

Beverly Erlebacher bae at
Tue Jul 30 15:00:52 EST 2002

In article <2002Jul29.181520.20464 at>,
Beverly Erlebacher <bae at> wrote:
>In article <pxZ09.415219$vq.22827015 at>,
>CJenks <cjenks4 at> wrote:
>>Can anyone help identify the wild climbing vine shown in the attached photo?
>>It has a small yellow flower and an orange seed pod that contains bright red
>>gelatinous seeds.  It grows in abundance here in the central Gulf Coast area
>>of Florida.
>It's a Chinese vegetable in the Curcurbitaceae family sometimes called
>bitter melon or foo gwa.  Anyhow, you eat it when it's still green and
>nearly full size.  It's quite bitter so it's generally mixed with other
>ingredients and is a bit of an acquired taste.
>The scientific name is Momordica charantia.  Here's a page with a lot of
>links:  Some damn it as a weed, some praise
>it as a crop, some hail its medicinal value...

Someone in Singapore sent me more info after I posted this:

= You are half correct in your posting re Momordica charantia. The
= picture shows the sp M charatia not the Fu kwa of chinese
= cooking. This small one is a medicinal sp and is used for this
= purpose in various parts of Asia . The Fu Kwa that is eaten as
= part of the Chinese diet is a cultivated vriety that is much much
= larger and is not as bitter as the sp.  There is a white variety
= from Taiwan.  The average length of the edible fu kwa is about
= 20 -25 cm. The wild one is only about 8 or 9 cm.  Fu Kwa is the
= Cantonese version of the name.

I grew these plants one summer, and the fruits were so bitter than 
even using recipes from several Chinese cookbooks I couldn't get 
used to the taste.  Now I know my mistake!  I bought the seeds in
a packet labelled mainly in Chinese, which I don't read, and I must
have gotten the medicinal variety.  I thought the fruits were so
small because of my unsuitable climate!  The ones I see in the store
are much longer.

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