'COLOCYNTHIS CITRULLUS' FROM ACEAE FAMILY

ABOUT 'COLOCYNTHIS CITRULLUS' PLANT

Colocynthis citrullus 

FAMILY:- CUCURBIT ACEAE
 

BOTANICAL NAME:- Colocynthis citrullus
Syn: Citrullus lanatus Citrulls valgaris.
 

VERNACULAR NAMES :
 

SINHALA : Komadu, Peni-Komadu
TAMIL : Pitcha
ENGLISH : Water Melon
 


DESCRIPTION :
 

An extensively climbing annual with thick, angular, branching stems; young shoots villous;
 

LEAVES:- Simple, alternate, 7.5-20 cm long, ovate to ovate-oblong in outline, cordate at base, deeply or moderately 3-7 lobed; Petioles a little shorter than the limb, villous;
 

FLOWERS:- About 2-3.5 cm diameter, monoecious, yellow, solitary and axillary, consist of male and female flowers.
 

FRUITS:- About 25 cm diameter, sub-globose or ellipsoid, smooth greenish with a glaucous waxy coating, flesh juicy red or yellowish white: seeds black margined (Jayaweera, 1980).
 

DISTRIBUTION :
 

Indigenous to tropical and sub-tropical Africa ( FAO, 1980; Querol, 1993), but cultivated in most of the eastern countries. It is of ancient cultivation in Mediterranean region and reached India in pre-historic time. In Sri Lanka it is cultivated mostly in the dry zone during the rainy season.
 

EDIBLE PART : The fruit and seeds.
FOOD USE : Riped fruits are eaten fresh and are a good substitute for drinking water in desert areas. It is used in preparations of salads, juices and ice cream. Roasted seeds are used as a snack


NUTRITIONAL AND THERAPEUTIC VALUE :
 

Moisture - 95.8 g, 
Energy - 16 Kcal, 
Proteins -0.2 g, 
Fat -0.2 g, 
Carbohydrates -3.3 g, 
Calcium - 11 mg, 
Phosphorus - 12 mg, 
Iron - 7.9 mg, 
Thiamine - 20 meg, 
Riboflavin - 40 meg, 
Niacin 0.1 mg, 
Vitamin C - 1 mg.
 

Contains ascorbic acid oxidase, while the flesh of the fruit contains saccharose, dextrose, citrulline, carotin etc. The peel contains a fixed oil. The seed yields an oil,proteins, cucurbitol and an active principle of cucurbocitrin. The juice of the root is used to arrest hemorrhage after abortion.
 

ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE:
 

Soils well drained, high in organic content, with a good water holding capacity are good for water melon. Growth and fruit production in most areas are rapid during dry and sunny periods. Elevations up to 1000 m provide suitable conditions for growth.
 

CULTIVATION:
 

Generally watermelons are cultivated or grown semi-wild. They are often intercropped with maize, sorghum and millet. Seed is planted at the beginning of the rains, where rainfall is limited or at the end of the rainy season on good moisture-containing soils. Seeds, in groups of 1-3, are sown 2-4 cm deep in trenches, on mounds, or in widely spaced planting holes. Alternatively seedlings may be raised in containers and transplanted when 10-14 cm high.
 

Spacing-2 m x 70 cm up to 3.5 x 3.5 m, depending on the cultivar.
 

Seed rate - 2.5 -3 kg/ha.
 

Irrigation - Rainy season crops may not require watering, but dry season crops may need a good soaking once a week to keep the soil moist.
 

Fertilizer - NPK is applied before sowing or transplanting.
 

Time to harvest - 80 -100 days from sowing, continuing for 40-50 days.
 

Harvesting - Maturity is indicated by withering of tendrils and increasing fruit density. Fruits give a dull hallow sound when tapped.

STORAGE :
 

Fruits should not be left too long in the field after ripening. When picked carefully at the proper stage of maturity, and stored in a cool, dry place water melons can be kept for 2-4 weeks

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