I couldn’t resist highlighting a photograph (original via BPotD Flickr Group Pool) from the recent additions to Eric in SF@Flickr‘s From the Earth photo set – if you’re a fan of colour and patterns, the photographs are a must-see. Thanks once again, Eric!
As Eric points out, the Wikipedia entry on bitter melon is a good starting point to learn more about this widely-grown vegetable, as it describes the plant, highlights the culinary and medicinal uses and provides common names in two dozen languages. From the common names, it is easily inferred that it is cultivated pantropically (though African common names are absent). Flora Zambesiaca, though not providing any African common names, provides the best scientific description of the plant, though: Momordica charantia.
An image search for Momordica charantia reveals a diversity of form for this vegetable (and this stamp with an illustration of the ripe fruit from the Cucurbit Network). I think the hybrid in today’s photograph is one of the Indian cultivars. As always, though, I’m open to being corrected.
If you’re going to search for more information on bitter melon, you’ll find the search engine results cluttered with various medicinal claims, particularly in regard to diabetes. Do note that in Bitter melon (Momordica charantia): A review of efficacy and safety, Basch et al. conclude “Bitter melon may have hypoglycemic effects, but data are not sufficient to recommend its use in the absence of careful supervision and monitoring” (American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 60(4):356-359).