February 4, 2018

Pepinillo (Melothria guadalupensis)

Melothria guadalupensis (Pepinillo) this is herbaceous monoecious perennial climber also called by synonym name: Melothria pendula var. chlorocarpa. It is a cousin of other well known species: cucamelon (M. scabra) (but it is not the same – they are two distinct botanical species).  

M. guadalupensis grows in wild state in over at least all of the Gulf Coast states in USA, and Central America. My plants were origin from Texas. It is medium size (about 2m = 7 ft tall in one year) climber with shallowly-lobed leaves, small yellow flowers and oblong, yellowish-mottled-green fruits about 2,5cm = 1 inch long, on long pedicels. The upper end of fruit is always acute. They fall down when ripe and later become dark-green when overripe. The fruits are edible when immature – raw or cooked. They have little acid, cucumber-like taste. I heard that also underground rhizomes of this species are edible. They have also cucumber-like flavor, but they are rather mealy (they contains starch). I am not sure if the rhizomes can be eaten raw in large doses, or after cooking/processing (but I suppose that they are rather safe raw). This is also folk medicinal herb. The seeds are larger than usual Melothria pendula. They germinates easily when sown surface. The plant is easy to growing. Likes full sun or half-shade, well drained, fertile, alkaline soils and medium watering. I harvested the rhizomes in autumn (they were surprisingly small) and now I am keeping them in moist Sphagnum moss in cool temperature (but protected before frost). I hope that they survive and resprout in spring.

Young seedlings in spring

Female flower

Young fruits
The fruits fall down whem ripe
Over-ripe fruits (stored by a few weeks after harvest) become darker
The rhizomes are said to be edible

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