Bitter Gourd A Wild Edible Plant For Survival
The Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) aka Bitter Melon is a vine that grows in tropical and subtropical climates. It is widely grown in Asia, Africa, and in the Caribbean, but might be encountered anywhere that it might have been raised. It is widely grown for its fruit that is very bitter. There are a number of different varieties and their fruits differ a good bit in appearance as well as taste.
The Bitter Gourd is a plant that can well... stink. But the leaves can be cooked as a green, and the water used as a tea. The bitter fruit is edible when first cooked and red arils around the seed are edible as well as the blossom which or bested used as a flavoring in other foods.
Identification of Bitter Gourd is not hard. It is a vine that has tendrils and grow longer that 12 feet (3.65 meters) in length. The leaves are simple, not compound, and they alternate instead of being opposite which means two leaves appear next to each other, but on opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are anywhere from 1.5 to 4.5 inches (3.8-12 cm) across with three to seven deeply separated lobes. The plants have separate male and female flowers. The fruits appear during the fall.
The fruit looks like a cucumber with warts. The fruit has a hollow cross-section with flesh surrounding a seed cavity. The fruit is most picked when green or when it shows the first signs of turning yellow.
The pith in the middle around the seeds can be eaten raw when it becomes red and sweet.
Warning: Side effects can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, hypoglycemia, urinary incontinence, and chest pain. Symptoms were generally mild and no cause for real alarm. But pregnant women should avoid the plant because it can induce bleeding, contractions resulting in a potential misscarrage.