Wild Florida Photo - Momordica charantia

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Momordica charantia

BALSAMPEAR

WILD BALSAM APPLE

BITTER GOURD

Not native to Florida

Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council:  Category II designation
Invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species.
Planting this species should be avoided and removal of existing plants may be desirable.

 

A common vine of disturbed sites from Putnam County south through most of the peninsula, plus Leon and Escambia Counties. Also now found in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
This problem invasive is native to the Old World tropics, first discovered in tropical east Africa and has escaped from cultivation.
This climbing vine has tendrils that are opposite the alternate leaves. Leaves are petiolate, toothed, and five to seven lobed. The flowers are yellow and five lobed. The male flowers are on a long stem have three stamens with S-shaped anthers that often appear to form a a sphere. Female flowers appear above the swollen inferior ovary. The fruit is an ovate to egg-shaped warty yellow to orange gourd that splits open to reveal red, sticky seeds.
The immature fruit (only while still green) is edible if cooked, but bitter. Momordica charantia contains numerous compounds that can have serious medical consequences, so should only be consumed with complete knowledge about the effects.

 
Momordica charantia is a member of the Cucurbitaceae - Cucumber family.
 


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