|Botanical illustration of plant parts|
Momordica charantia (colloquially: bitter melon; bitter apple; bitter gourd; bitter squash; balsam-pear; with many more names listed below) is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit.
Bitter melon originated in Africa where it was a dry-season staple food of ǃKung hunter-gatherers. Wild or semi-domesticated variants spread across Asia in prehistory, and it was likely fully domesticated in Southeast Asia. It is widely used in the cuisines of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Calque of Chinese 苦瓜 (kǔguā).
- IPA(key): /ˈbɪtəɹ ˈmɛlən/
bitter melon (plural bitter melons)
- A vine, Momordica charantia, which produces a bitter, though when properly prepared edible, fruit.
- (Australia) A similar fruit-bearing vine, Citrullus lanatus (Citroides Group).
- The fruit of the bitter melon vine.
- balsam pear, bitter gourd, karela, cerasee (Jamaica)