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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Momordica charantia – Bitter Melon (seed)

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A member of the Cucurbitaceae family, Bitter Melon is used in many parts of Asia as both an edible and medicinal plant. Useful for diabetes. The main thing i like about this plant is the juicy red arils that surround the seeds. They are slightly sweet, juicy and chock full of lycopene and other carotenoids. See this article:

Comparative Study of the Carotenoid Composition of the Seeds of Ripening Momordica charantia and Tomatoes. Delia B. Rodriguez, Tung-Ching Lee, and  Clinton O. Chichester. Plant Physiol. 1975 Nov; 56(5): 626–629. The total carotenoid concentration of the seeds of Momordica charantia rose about 100-fold from the immature to the ripe stage. The massive increase was almost exclusively attributable to lycopene, which accounted for 96% of the carotenoids of the ripe seeds. The carotenoid pattern of the seed was found to be drastically different from that of the pericarp. The seed, which contained fewer carotenoids, had a total concentration 12 times greater than that in the pericarp at the ripe stage. The acyclic lycopene selectively accumulated in the seed, whereas the cyclic carotenoids, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and β-carotene, were the principal pigments of the ripe pericarp. The seed of ripe tomatoes reflected the qualitative pattern of the whole fruit. The total carotenoid concentration was, however, much lower and the lycopene content was particularly low. β-Carotene, having a comparatively high concentration, emerged as the major pigment of the seed. 

See Wikipedia for more information.

Care and Cultivation of Momordica charantia

You can soak Momordica charantia seeds for 24 hours in water or a dilute seaweed solution or just plant directly into the garden. Select well drained soil and plant seeds around 2 – 3 cm deep, cover seeds and firm soil. Water in well and keep moist until germination in 10-14 days. Space plants 20-30cm apart and either grow along a fence, over other shrubs or make a trellis for them to climb on. Fruit will turn orange and split when seeds are ready. Pick earlier for culinary uses (when they are green to just turning yellow). Can be a bit weedy in tropical areas.

10 seeds per packet


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