Friday, 29 August 2014

Snake Gourd

Image: douneika
Trichosanthes cucumerina
Who knew you could look even prettier after getting torn to shreds?

Image: Hafiz Issadeen
These are the flowers of the Snake Gourd, a vine native to a large patch of south and southeast Asia, from India and Sri Lanka to China and all the way down to northern Australia.

Image: Richard Parker
Leaves, tendrils and an artist's rendition of an infant star surrounded by space-dust and astro-gas
Aren't they utterly enchanting? With those delicate, lacy tendrils on each petal they have a sort of extravagant fragility about them. This is a flower that needs to hold someone's hand before crossing the road.

Image: Aathavan jaffna
Perhaps it's just as well they're so tiny. They also open at night to attract moths.

Image: Sangfroid
The fruit of Snake Gourd are very different. They can reach almost 2 metres (6.5 ft) long! Now you can see how this plant belongs to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, alongside cucumbers, watermelons and pumpkins.

These things are edible when they're young and green...

Image: .Bambo.
But, like a lot of us, they become increasingly tough and bitter as they age. They also curl up, hence the Snake part of their name.

Image: 杉山龍彦
Eventually, they become hard and red and not very appetising at all. They can be used to make didgeridoos, though!

Image: Arun delonix
Here's a fruit with a stone tied to it. Maybe that's what they have to do if they want it to remain straight enough to make a good didgeridoo out of it? I don't know. I just like the idea of someone tying a stone to a fruit.

Image: Dinesh Valke
No-one would tie a stone to one of the flowers, though. It's difficult to imagine them sharing the same plant as those fruit. The Snake Gourd must have a very complicated personality.

4 comments:

Crunchy said...

It's nature's doily! I hope all those wonderful frilly fungi don't get jealous.

TexWisGirl said...

wow! very pretty and very unique!

karim galal said...

So according to that fruit, its better to eat it when it becomes green and not red !

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

@Crunchy: Hopefully those fungi will be on the ground, far below the flowers. That way we can have several tiers of frilliness and not have it all concentrated at one height.

@TexWisGirl: Yes! They're lovely!

@karim galal: Ha! That's a good point!

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