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Family Cucurbitaceae
Cucumis anguria Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Cucumis anguria L. Badunga (Tag.)
Accepted infraspecifics Burr cucumber
Cucumis anguria var. anguria Bur gherkin (Engl.)
Cucumis anguria var.longaculeatus J.H.Kirkbr. Burr gourd (Engl.)
  Cackrey (Engl.)
  Gooseberry gourd (Engl.)
  Maroon cucumber (Engl.)
  West Indian gourd (Engl.)
  Wild Indian gherkin (Engl.)
Cucumis anguria L. is accepted. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
FRENCH: Concombre antillais, Cornichon des Antilles, Ti-concombre, Macissis.
PORTUGUESE: Pepino das Antilhas, Cornichão das Antillas, Machiche, Maxixe.
OTHERS: Cassongo, Chikanyanga, Chikopa, Chipokolo, Gpareberry gourd, Ingolowe, Jerusalem cucumber, Kasongwe, Muchacha, Muhawa.

Gen info
Wild cucumber (Cucumis anguria), or more commonly known as West Indian gherkin, is a vine in the cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae. It is native to Africa, but neutralized all throughout the globe.
- The fruit looks and taste quite similar to garden cucumbers (Cucumis sativus).

- Another plant is called wild cucumber, Echinocystis lobata, whose fruit is not edible. They belong to the same family, but placed in different genus.
- Possible origin of Cucumis anguria: The "West India gherkin" or "Bur Gherkin" is a cultigen known to have occurred in the West Indies and cultivated in an adventitious state since before 1650 when first accounts of the plant were published. Naudin suggested it was originally introduced from West Africa when negro slaves were brought to the New World, but also admits he does not know any wild African species of Cucumis resembling C. anguria sufficiently to deserve consideration as probable ancestor. (10)

Wild cucumber is a slender trailing or climbing annual herb, all parts densely hispidstems ribbed, to 3 m long x 4 mm diameter. Tendrils simple, clothed in hispid hairs; tendrils leaf-opposed. Leaf blades broadly ovate, cordate at base, deeply 3-5 lobed; blades about 35-95 x 40-90 mm, petioles about 15-60 mm long; both upper and lower leaf surfaces and the petioles densely clothed in hispid hairs. Inflorescences unisexual. Male flowers solitary or borne in fascicles of 2-10 flowers, or in pedunculate groups; flowers about 8 mm diam; calyx tube  (hypanthium) about 3-3.5 mm long, lobes linear about 0.5-2 mm long; corolla lobes ovate about 3.8-6 mm long, yellow; stamens 3, two stamens with 2-locular anthers and one with a unilocular anther. Female flowers: solitary; pedicels 10-95 mm; ovary 7-9 mm long, bristly. Fruit ellipsoidal, 35-60 x 20-28 mm, densely and shortly prickly or warted, with paler bands, ripening yellow; seeds 4-6 mm long. Cotyledons elliptical, about 17-18 x 11-12 mm. First leaf simple, ovate, second leaf simple with a lobe on each side at the base. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blades about 65 x 59 mm, petioles about 35 mm long, margins deeply lobed. Tendrils present. All plant parts densely clothed in long, multicellular, simple, spine-like hairs. (3)

- Introduced.
- Cultivated.
- Native range is Tanzania to S. Africa.

- In some places it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized.
- It has become an invasive and serious weed in parts of North America and Australia.

- Thin layer chromatography (TLC) analysis for antioxidant constituents showed appreciable levels of alkaloids (3.5±0.02), flavonoids (20.3±0.09), tannins (2.7±0.03), carotenoids (47.8±0.06), steroids (5.5±0.07), anthocyanins (10.3±0.02) relative percent on dry weight basis. (see study below) (6)
- Nutrient composition of domesticated fruit form of the West Indian gherkin per 100 g fresh fruit yields water 93g, energy 71 kJ, protein 1.4g, fat 0..1-0.5 g, total sugar 1.9-2.5g, starch 0.3-0,4 g, Ca 25-27 mg, P 33-34 mg, Fe 0.6 mg, vitamin A 200-325 IU, thiamin 0.05-0.15 mg, riboflavin 0.40 mg, niacin 0.3-0.5mg, ascorbic acid 48-54 mg. (6)
- Seed oil of wild bitter form is composed of palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acid. (7)
- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded tannins, flavonoids, saponins, alkaloids, anthraquinones, steroids, terpenoids, and reducing sugars. (6)
- Phytochemical quantification of leaf extract yielded total phenols (TPC) 89.32 mg/g, total flavonoid (TFC) 35.88 mg/g, tannins 8.99 mg/g, and steroids 18.21 mg/g. Analysis of phenolic constituents showed significant amounts of myricetin (358.54  µg/g), quercetin (294.25 µg/g), salicylic acid (288.21 µg/g), chlorogenic acid (252.31 µg/g), and kaempferol (201.01 µg/g). (see study below) (8)

- It can produced bitter and non-bitter fruits.
- Preferable to eat wild cucumbers when young as the bitterness increases considerable as the fruit ripens. Bitterness attributed to bitter principles, cucurbitacins, which are tetracyclic triterpenoids. Cucurbitacins are one of the most bitter substances known and are extremely toxic to mammals.

Parts used
Leaves, fruits, roots. used.


- Edible, mild nutty flavor with a taste similar to young common cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Immature fruits are eaten raw, cooked, chopped into relishes, ingredients for stews, salads, soups, stir-friend dishes, and sandwiches - a substitute for regular cucumber.
- Frequently pickled, absorbing vinegar well.
- Young leaves are cooked, consumed as vegetable.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Tanzania, enema of plant used to treat stomach pains.
- In Mexico, root decoctions used for stomach troubles;. Cuba, used to reduce edema, leaf juice applied to freckles, fruit applied to hemorrhoids, and leaves steeped in vinegar used to treat ringworm. In Curacao, fruit eaten to treat jaundice. In Columbia, fruits eaten raw to dissolve kidney stones. (4)
- Seeds used as vermifuge--ground into a fine flour, made into an emulsion with water and eaten to purge and expel tapeworms or other parasites from the body. (11)
- Pesticide / Antifeedant: In Zimbabwe, the bitter forms are sometimes used as natural pesticide in stored crops. The fruits
juice used as antifeedant in granaries.
- Veterinary: In Zimbabwe, juice of fruit used to treat septic wounds in livestock. (4)

Bitterness and Toxicity:
It is best to eat wild cucumbers when young as the bitterness increases considerable as the fruit ripens. Bitterness attributed to bitter principles, cucurbitacins, which are tetracyclic triterpenoids. Cucurbitacins are one of the most bitter substances known and are extremely toxic to mammals. In Cucumis anguria, the main brittle principle is cucurbitacin B (C32H48O8), with much smaller amount of cucurbitacin D (C30H46O7) and traces of cucurbitacins G and H. Fruit juice is highly toxic to rats with LD50 1.6 mg/kg. Toxicity is reduced more than 100-fold if juice is boiled before using. (4)
Antimicrobial / Fruit: Ethanol-methanol-chloroform and ethyl acetate were used to extract bioactive compounds from fruits of C. anguria to screen for antibacterial and antifungal activities against selected human clinical pathogens by disc diffusion method. Maximum antimicrobial activity was observed in ethanolic extracts compared to other extracts. (5)
Antioxidant / Phytochemicals: Study investigated the phytochemicals and antioxidant capacity of Cucumis anguria.  Results showed superior antioxidant activity compared to standard antioxidants, tannic acid and ascorbic acid, which was attributed hugely to flavonoids and saponins. (see constituents above) (6)
Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial / Leaves: Study reports on the green, simple, cost-effective synthesis of silver nanoparticles using wild Cucumis anguria leaf extract as reducing and capping agents. By disc diffusion method, the synthesized AgNPs showed enhanced antibacterial activity against both S. aureus and E. coli. (7)
Corrosion Inhibition of Mild Steel / Leaf: Study evaluated leaf extract for phytochemicals and effect in inhibiting corrosion of mild steel in 1M H2SO4. Spectroscopy confirmed the existence of a protective film created by C. anguria leaf extract on metal surface (mild steel). Maximum inhibition efficiency of 92.39% was reached using 250 ppm of C. anguria leaf extract inhibitor. (see constituents above) (8)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Hairy Root Cultures: Study evaluated the production of secondary metabolites from hairy root cultures of gherkin (C. anguria) along with antioxidant and antimicrobial activities using explants from in vitro seedlings inoculated with Agrobacterium rhizogenes strain for the induction of hairy roots. Total phenolics, flavonoid content, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities were higher in hairy roots compared to non-transformed roots. Hairy root cultures showed greater potential for production of important phenolic compounds and uses of their biological activities. (9)

Seeds in the cybermarket.

November 2022

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS

IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Cucumis anguria fruits and leaves / Eugenio Hansen / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons

OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Cucumis anguria fruits / Filo gen / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4..0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Cucumis anguria seeds / Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Public Domain / USDA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cucumis anguria / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Wild Cucumber, a Hairy and Prickly Gherkin Cucumber / EatThePlanet
Cucumis anguria L. var. anguria / Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants

Cucumus anguria / PROTA: Plants Resources of Tropical Africa
Analysis of phytochemical constituents and antimicrobial activities of Cucumis anguria L. against clinical pathogens / Kumar S S. Kamraj M / American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Science, 2010; 7(2): pp 176-178 / ISSN: 1818-6769 / Record No: 210031366972
Wild Cucumis anguria leaves: phytochemical profile and antioxidant capacity / P Dzomba, M Mupa / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 2012; pp 1-5
Synthesis of silver nanoparticles using wild Cucumis anguria: Characterization and antibacterial activity
/ Muchanyereyi-Mukaratirwa Netai, Moyo Joyce N, Nyoni Stephen, Cexton Musekiwa / African Journal of Biotechnology, 2017; 16(38: pp 1911-1921 / DOI: 10.5897/AJB2017.16076
Evaluation of Phytochemical, Polyphenol Composition and Anti-Corrosion Capacity of Cucumis anguria L. Leaf Extract on Metal Surface in Sulfuric Acid Medium / Ill-Min Chung, Seung-Hyun Km, Mayakrishnan Prabakaran / Protection of Metals and Physical Chemistry of Surfaces, 2020; 56: pp 214-224 /
DOI: 10.1134/S2070205120010050
Evaluation of phenolic compounds, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities from transgenic hairy root cultures of gherkiin (Cucumis anguria L.) / J Y Yoon, I M Chung, M Thiruvengadam / South African Journal of Botany, 2015; Vol 100: pp 80-86 / DOI: 101.1016/j.sajb.2015.05.008
The possible origin of Cucumis anguria L. /  ADJ Meeuse / Blumea; 1958; 4(1S): pp 196-205  / Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Cucumis anguria L / Plants For A Future

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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