Family • Cucurbitaceae - Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. - SNAKE GOURD - Wang Ku

Scientific names

Trichosanthes amara Blanco
Trichosanthes brevibracteata Kundu
Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn.
Trichosanthes locuniana Naves
Trichosanthes anguina .L.
Gua ye gua lou (Chin.)

Common names

Melon-daga (Tag.)
Melon-melonan (Tag.)
Parparia (Ilk.)
Tabubok (Tag.)
Tabugok (Tag.)
Karkarabasa-ti-aso (Ilk.)
Chinese cucumber (Engl.)
Wild snake gourd (Engl.)
Snake tomato (Engl.)
Viper gourd (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

FRENCH: Patol de Malabar.
HINDI: Jangli chichonda, Kadu padavala, Kadva parval, Patel, Pudel.
KANNADA: Kahipadavala.
MALAYALAM: Kaippan padavalam, Padavalam.
NEPALESE: Van cicindo.
TAMIL: Pedapal.
TELUGU: Adavi potla.
THAI: Buap khom, Ma noi cha.


Melon-melonan is a climbing, herbaceous vine, 5 to 6 meters high. Stems are green, 4-angled, slightly hairy, and faintly disagreeable in odor. Roots are somewhat tuberous and whitish. Leaves are somewhat hairy on both surfaces, rounded, 7 to 14 centimeters long and broad, 3- to 5-lobed, the lobes being broad, rounded or obtuse, the sinuses broad or narrow and rounded; and the base broadly heart-shaped. Staminate inflorescences are long-peduncled and axillary with 6 to 15 flowers. Calyx-tube is dilated above, about 1 centimeter long, green, and hairy. Petals are white, fimbriate, oblong, about 1.3 centimeters long. Pistillate flowers occur singly in the axils of the leaves. Fruits is ellipsoid, 3 to 4.5 centimeters long, 2.5 to 3 centimeters in diameter, green and mottled with longitudinal gray stripes when young, and orange-red when mature. Seeds are half-ellipsoid, somewhat compressed, undulate, hard, rugose, nearly 1 centimeter long, and imbedded in a soft, foetid, bitter and red pulp.


– Only in Ilocos Sur, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, Bataan, Rizal and Laguna Provinces in Luzon, in thickets at low and medium altitudes, ascending to 1,200 meters.
– Also occurs in India, through Malaya to tropical Australia.


• Leaves, roots, and fruit are all bitter.
• Considered abortifacient, anthelmintic, emetic and purgative.
• Fruit is purgative and emetic.
• Root is cathartic, aperient.
• Used as antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, cytotoxic, antibacterial.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Trichosanthes cucurmerina impoves glucose tolerance and tissue glycogen in non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus induced rats / Kirana, H; Srinivasan, B / Indian Journal of Pharmacology, May 1, 2008, Vol 40, No 3, pp 103-106

(2) Anti-inflammatory activity of root tubers of trichosanthes cucumerina (LINN) in mouse’s hind paw oedema induced by carrageenin 

(3) Hepatoprotective effect of Trichosanthes cucumerina Var cucumerina L. on carbon tetrachloride induced liver damage in rats./ Sathesh Kumar S, Ravi Kumar B, Krishna Mohan G. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jun 22;123(2):347-50. Epub 2009 Mar 3

(4) Effect of Ethanol Extract of Whole Plant of Trichosanthes cucumerina var. cucumerina L. on Gonadotropins, Ovarian Follicular Kinetics and Estrous Cycle for Screening of Antifertility Activity in Albino Rats / Devendra N. Kage; et al / Int. J. Morphol., 27(1):173-182, 2009. /

(5) Phyto-Constituents And Anti-Oxidant Activity Of The Pulp Of Snake Tomato (Trichosanthes cucumerina L.) / OC Adebooye / African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines > Vol 5, No 2 (2008)

(6) Gastroprotective activity of Trichosanthes cucumerina in rats / L D A M Arawwawala, M I Thabrew and L S R Arambewela / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 127, Issue 3, 17 February 2010, Pages 750-754 /
doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.11.026 |

/ L Joji Reddy, Beena Jose, J C Anjana, TN Ruveena / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences / ISSN- 0975-1491 Vol 2, Suppl 4, 2010

(8) STUDY THE ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY OF TRICHOSANTHES CUCUMERINA SEEDS / Nistha marwah. N. S. Gill, Rashmi Arora / International Journal of Natural Product Science 2012: Spl Issue 1:231

(9) Effects of Methanolic Extracts of Trichosanthes Cucumerina Seeds on the Weight of Urinary Bladder in Adult Male Wistar Rats / Mr. Akinyemi R Akinsola , Mr. Huthman Oluwaseun , Mr. Adesanya Adewale , Mr. Soyebo Olusegun , Mr. Musa Adesina / WebmedCentral ANATOMY 2012;3(6):WMC003442

(10) Cardioprotective activity of methanol extract of fruit of Trichosanthes cucumerina on doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in Wistar rats / Shah SL, Mali VR, Zambare GN, Bodhankar SL / Toxicol Int 2012;19:167-72

(11) Anti-inflammatory activity of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. in rats / Arawwawala, M; Thabrew, I; Arambewela, L; Handunnetti, S / Journal of Ethnopharmacology , 2010, Vol 131, No 3, pp 538-543

(12) Antidiabetic activity of Trichosanthes cucumerina in normal and streptozotocin–induced diabetic rats / M Arawwawala, I Thabrew, L Arambewela / International Journal of Biological and Chemical Sciences > Vol 3, No 2 (2009)

(13) Sorting Trichosanthes names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE

(14) Combination of trichosanthes cucumerina L. compounds: an analysis for novel effects of anticancer cell activites as probes for pharmacological studies / Md Ariful Haque Mollik / Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 2013, 1(Suppl 1):P134 / doi:10.1186/2051-1426-1-S1-P134

(15) Potentiality of aqueous leaf extract of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. on hair growth promotion in Wiatar albino rats / S Sandhya, J. Chandrasekhar, K R Vinod and Dabid Banji / Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources, Vol 3(1), March 2012, pp 14-19.

(16) IN VIVO LETHAL AND CYTOTOXICITY ASSESSMENT OF TRICHOSANTHES CUCUMERINA / Singh Sandeep Kumar, Prakash Veeru, Kumar Arun, Kumar Ranjit, Ali Mohammad / Int. Res. J. Pharm. 2013, 4 (4)

(17) Effect of 28% Concentration of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. (Snake Tomato) Seed on Wound Healing Using Male Wistar Rats / Edibamode E. I*, Olotu E. J, Allison T.A, Otobo E.O / Sch. J. App. Med. Sci., 2014; 2(2D):804-811

(18) Study of Antioxidant, Analgesic and Antiulcer Potential of Trichosanthes cucumerina Ethanolic Seeds Extract/ N.S. Gill, Nistha Marwah, Rashmi Arora and M. Bali / Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 2012, Vol 11, Issue 5, Pp 235-240 / DOI: 10.3923/ajps.2012.235.240

(19) PHYTOCHEMICAL INVESTIGATION, DIURETIC ACTIVITY AND ANTHELMINTIC ACTIVITY OF TRICHOSANTHES CUCUMERINA LINN / J. Raama Murthy*, P. Nataraj, R. Meera / International Journal of Institutional Pharmacy and Life Sciences 2(2): March-April 2012

(20) Oral Administration of Aqueous Extractof Trichosanthes cucumerina mayPrevent Diabetic Renal Abnormalities / Olusola Atilade ADEEYO, Omobolanle OGUNDARE, Emmanuel Oluwatobi SALAWU, Waheed Adeoye SAKA, Gbadebo Emmanuel ADELEKE, Olakunle James ONAOLAPO / World J Young Researchers 2011

(21) Antiproliferative Effect of Cucurbitacin B Extracted from Trichosanthes cucumerina L. on Human Cancer Cell Lines / Tanawan Kummalue, M.D, Weena Jiratchariyakul, Dr.rer.nat, Totsaporn Srisapoomi, M.S, Sathien Sukpanichnant, M.D, Toshiro Hara, M.D., Ph.D, Kenzaburo Tani, M.D., Ph.D / Siriraj Med J, Volume 61, Number 2, March-April 2009

• Root extract study isolated bryonolic acid, chondrillasteryl glucoside, bryononic acid, cucurbitacin B, dihydrocucurbitacin B.
– Aqueous extract yielded carbohydrates, flavonoids, saponins, flavonol glycoside and triterpenoid saponins.

Parts utilized
Leaves, stems, shoots, fruit.

– Two ounces of root juice is a drastic purgative.
– Bulbous part of the roots acts as hydragogue cathartic.
– Roots used for expelling worms.
– Plant reported to cure quotidian and quartan fevers chiefly by inducing vomiting.
– In Konkan, leaf-juice is rubbed over the liver to relieve congestion, or all over the body in remittent fevers.
– Infusion of tender shoots and dried capsules used as aperient.
– Expressed juice of leaves used as emetic.
– Leaves and stems used for bilious disorders and skin diseases; also used as emmenagogue.
– Bitter, unripe fruit capsule are dried, and as sugared decoction or infusion used to assist digestion.
– Fruit is considered a violent purgative and efficient emetic.
– Seeds are anthelmintic and antiperiodic.
– Leaves used for hair growth.
– In China, widely used it traditional medicine, where it is also used as an abortifacient.
– Roots used for diabetes, skin swellings likes boils and furuncles.
– Stalks and leaves for fevers.
– In Ayurvedic medicine, a constituent in many formulations; used for treatment of liver disorders.
– In India, seeds have been sued for dysentery, coughs and as an emetic.
– Used as a purgative; for fever and bronchitis.


• Anti-diabetic: Trichosanthes cucurmerina improves glucose tolerance and tissue glycogen in non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus induced rats: Study showed T cucurmerina possess antidiabetic activity with improvement in oral glucose tolerance and glucose uptake in peripheral tissues.
• Anti-inflammatory / Root Tubers: Study showed anti-inflammatory activity of root tubers of trichosanthes cucumerina (LINN) in mouse’s hind paw oedema induced by carrageenin.
• Hepatoprotective: A study of the methanolic extract of the whole plant of Tricosanthes cucumerina, evaluated for hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity, showed histopathologic changes that support the protective effect of the extract and scientifically supports its use in various Ayurvedic preparations and traditional medicine for treatment of hepatic disorders.
• Anti-fertility: The ethanol extract of TC was evaluated for antiovulatory activity in adult rats. The extract affected normal estrous cycle, reduced the number of healthy follicles and increased the number of regressing follicles. The study observed antiovulatory activity of the EE of the whole plant of TC.
• Gastroprotective: Results show the hot water extract of Tricosanthes cucumerina possesses significant and dose-dependent gastroprotective effects in the alcohol model. The same dose also mediated a significant gastroprotective activity in the indomethacin model. In both, the effect was comparable with that produced by cimetidine.
• Bioactive Constituents of Root and Fruit Juice: Study of root and fruit juice isolated bryonolic acid, chondrillasteryl glucoside, bryononic acid, cucurbitacin B and dihydrocucurbitacin B. The isolated compounds showed antimalarial and antiviral activity.
• Antibacterial: Studies on extracts of the leaves of Trichosanthes cucumerina screened for antibacterial activity against various pathogenic bacteria (B cereus, E faecalis, S paratyphi, S aureus, E coli, Strep faecalis, P vulgaris, K pneumonia, P aeruginosa and S marcescens) showed the ethyl acetate, chloroform and methanol extracts of T cucumerina leaves showed pronounced activity on all organisms tested with activity comparable to standard antibiotics. Results suggest the extracts can be used as a potential external antiseptic and incorporated into drug formulations.
• Antioxidant / Seeds: Using the hydrogen peroxide free scavenging method, study of seed extract showed significant antioxidant potential.
• Bladder Toxicity Effects: Study of both low and high doses of a methanolic extract of Tc seeds used for the treatment of inflammation did not cause any significant effect on bladder weights and no histological aberration in the urinary bladder.
• Cardioprotective: Study of pretreatment of methanol extract of T. cucumerina fruit in Wistar rats showed reduction of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of a hot-water extract in a carrageenan-induced paw edema model in Wistar rats showed significant inhibition of inflammation. Probable mechanisms were inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) production and membrane stabilization activities. Effect was comparable to indomethacin.
• Anti-Diabetic: Study of a hot-water extract of aerial parts showed a mediation of a dose-dependent reduction in fasting blood glucose levels.
• Anti-Prostate Cancer: Natural compounds found in T. cucumerina (punicic-, quinic-, gallic-, trans-vaccenic-, and cis-vaccenic-, pelargonidin-, cyanidin-, malvidin-, and delphinidin chloride, epicatechin gallate, epicatechin, kaempferol, and epigallocatechin) delay prostate cancer progression. These compounds were tested in vitro in a hormone-dependent prostate cancer and steroidogenesis model. Results showed various natural compounds in T. cucumerina have antiproliferative effects in LNCaP cells and punicic acid acts as an aromatase inhibitor in H29R5 cells.
• Hair Growth Promotion: An aqueous extract was evaluated for hair growth promoting activity on Wistar albino rats. Hair growth completion, length of hair, percentage of hair follicles and diameter of hair patch were comparable with animals treated with 2% minoxidil. Results suggest leaves of T. cucumerina are a potent hair growth promoter which supports traditional claims.
• Toxicity and Cytotoxicity Studies / Fruit and Leaves: Study evaluated the lethal dose and cytotoxicity of an ethanolic extract of T. cucumerina fruits and leaves. Results showed the extracts of fruit and leaves to be quite safe and can be used in the treatment of chronic diseases in diabetes without toxicity.
• Wound Healing / Seeds: Study evaluated the efficacy of seeds on wound healing in a male wistar rat model. A 28% concentration of Trichosanthes cucumerina seed was topically applied on wounds of experimental animals. Results showed shorter periods of total wound closure and increased inflammatory response.
• Antioxidant / Analgesic / Anti-Ulcer / Seed Extract: Study evaluated the antioxidant, analgesic and antiulcer effect of ethanol seed extract. There was maximum scavenging activity by DPPH radical scavenging method. There was ulcer inhibition in a NSAID drug-induced model and ethanol model. Also, it showed potential analgesic activity by Eddy’s hot plate method.
• Diuretic / Anthelmintic: Study evaluated various extracts of Trichosanthes cucumerina for diuretic activity. The methanolic extract exhibited significant diuretic activity with increased total urine volume and urine concentration of Na+, K+, and Cl-., with furosemide as standard. It also exhibited potent anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma. with Albendazole as reference.
• Diabetic Renoprotective: Study of aqueous extract of T. cucumerina in alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits showed prevention of some and significant reduction of diabetic adverse renal effects. The results were attributed to cytoprotective and antioxidant properties of the extract.
• Antiproliferative / Cucurbitacin B / Human Cancer Cell Lines: Study evaluated the antiproliferative effect of cucurbitacin B from T. cucumerina on human cancer lines. Results showed a modest direct toxic effect on the cell lines with the highest toxic effect on human colon cancer cells.