Bitter Melon: Tell Me I’m Not The Only One Who Loves You

Bitter Melon

Mormodica charantia

Someone out there has gotta love this besides me. That bitter green flavor of bitter melon is delicious. It is also highly nutritious, stuffed with antioxidants and I am sure lots of other things that agree with anyone trying to live long and healthy. But this is not why I “tolerate” the flavor. I really love the bitterness of this plant.

I know I am not the only one because it is cultivated all over the tropics. Not just in Asia, but in India, the Caribbean, Australia…someone besides me is eating bitter melon.

The strange-looking fruits can vary: some are very warty, some are smoother. Colors range from almost white to almost black and many shades of green. Fruits can be over a foot long, or only about 3 inches long, the average being about 6 inches. They grow on vigorous vines with beautiful lobed leaves and 5-angled stems. Fruits turn yellow to orange when over ripe and eventually slit open in three sections to reveal strange seeds with red arils. You don’t eat them at this point. You eat them with they are young and tender. 

Pick a spot in the garden where you can keep their roots in the shade. If you prepare the soil well with manure and compost and good drainage, bitter melon will need little else throughout the season save an occasional feeding to make you feel important as a gardener. This plant can do ok in part shade if you need something viney in a shady spot. Too much shade, and you won’t get fruits.

Some videos to guide you to exploring bitter melon.


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3 thoughts on “Bitter Melon: Tell Me I’m Not The Only One Who Loves You

  1. Pingback: Nice Melons! (and watermelons) « Tucson Urban Gardener

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