Regularity: Regularly occurring
Distribution: Along the coast or in coastal thickets, in southern and southwestern Puerto Rico. Also on Culebra, Mona, Vieques, Anegada, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and Tortola. Native to Africa, but naturalized in the Antilles, Central America, and South America.
Public forest: Guánica and Mona.
Cucumis anguria L., Sp. Pl. 1011. 1753.
Herbaceous vine, creeping or climbing by axillary tendrils, which attains 0.25-2 m in length. Stems branched from the base, slender, angular, hirsute; tendrils simple, shorter than the leaves. Leaves alternate; blades 3-10 × 3.5-10 cm, deeply 3-5-palmatilobed, the lobes oblong or oblanceolate, the apices obtuse or rounded, the base lyrate, the margins ciliate, crenate or denticulate; upper surface dull, scabrid; lower surface pale green, dull, scabrid, with prominent venation and hispidulous; petioles sulcate, hispidulous, 6-12 cm long. Flowers solitary or in axillary fascicles, unisexual. Calyx campanulate,yellowish, 5-6 mm long, villous-spinulose; corolla pale yellow, ca. 1 cm long, the lobes acute. Berry ellipsoid or obovoid, spinulose, 4-5 cm long, greenish yellow, edible; seeds numerous, elliptical, cream-colored, 1-1.3 cm long.
Phenology: Collected in flower and fruit from January to March and in July and November.
Status: Exotic, naturalized, uncommon.
Selected Specimens Examined: Acevedo-Rdgz., P. 4023; 5234; Axelrod, F. 5939; 9695; Britton, N.L. 1265; Eggers, B. 627; Goll, G.P. 646; Liogier, A.H. 29440; Shafer, J.A. 2663; Sintenis, P. 601; Stevenson, J.A. 3258; Underwood, L.M. 575.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Cucumis anguria
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cucumis anguria
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Folk medicine
Comments: In Mexico, a root decoction is valued as a remedy for "stomach trouble." Colombians treat kidney problems with a decoction and believe that the fruit dissolves kidney stones when eaten in salad form. In Curaçao the fresh fruit is eaten to treat jaundice. The Cubans apply the juice of the leaves to freckles, and after being steeped in vinegar, the leaves are a valued treatment of ringworms. The fruit is applied to hemorrhoids. In Cuba, the root is taken in decoction to reduce edema.
Cucumis anguria, commonly known as bur cucumber, bur gherkin, cackrey, gooseberry gourd, maroon cucumber, West Indian gherkin, and West Indian gourd, is a vine that is indigenous to Africa, but has become naturalized in the New World, and is cultivated in many places. It is similar and related to the common cucumber (C. sativus) and its cultivars are known as gherkins.
Cucumis anguria is a thinly stemmed, herbaceous vine scrambling up to 3 meters long. Fruits (4–5 cm × 3–4 cm) are longly stalked, and ovoid to oblong. The surface of the fruits have long hairs covering a surface having warts or spines: The inner flesh is palid to green.
Although naturalized in many parts of the New World, Cucumis anguria is indigenous only to Africa, in the following countries: Angola; Botswana; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga); Swaziland; Tanzania; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.
Cucumis anguria has become naturalized in: Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia (Queensland); Barbados; Brazil; Cayman Islands; Costa Rica; Cuba; the Dominican Republic; Ecuador; French Guiana; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Madagascar; Martinique; Mexico; Netherlands Antilles; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; Puerto Rico; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and Grenadines; Suriname; the U.S. (California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington); Venezuela; and both British and American Virgin Islands.
Cucumis anguria is also cultivated, but not indigenous to, nor yet believed to have become naturalized in these places: Cape Verde; Réunion; Senegal; and parts of the Caribbean not already mentioned above.
Cucumis anguria is primarily grown (as a crop plant) for its edible fruit, which are used in pickling, as cooked vegetables, or eaten raw. The flavor is similar to that of the common cucumber. C. anguria fruits are popular in the northeast and north of Brazil, where they are an ingredient in the local version of cozido (meat-and-vegetable stew).
- Cucumis anguria was originally described and published in Species Plantarum 2: 1011. 1753. "Name - !Cucumis anguria L.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- GRIN (November 24, 2008). "Cucumis anguria information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "Cucumis anguria". EcoCrop. FAO. 1993–2007. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "Profile for Cucumis anguria (West Indian gherkin)". PLANTS Database. USDA, NRCS. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- Purseglove, J.W. (1968). Tropical Crops Dicotyledons. London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd.
- James A. Duke. "Cucumis anguria (CUCURBITACEAE)". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
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