Wax Gourd (Benincasa hispida)

Annual
B. cerifera.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Wax Gourd
Benincasa hispida
Cucurbitaceae

A wax that coats the fruit is used to make candles[2, 27, 238].

The roots have considerable resistance to soil-borne diseases and they are sometimes used as a rootstock for melons and other cucurbits[206].

  • Medicinal Use

    The wax gourd has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years in the Orient. All parts of the fruit are used medicinally.

    The rind of the fruit is diuretic[218, 238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of urinary dysfunction, summer fevers etc[238]. The ashes of the rind are applied to painful wounds[218].

    The seed is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative and tonic[218, 238]. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of vaginal discharges and coughs[238, 254]. In combination with Rheum palmatum it is used to treat intestinal abscesses[254]. In Ayurvedic medicine the seed is used in the treatment of coughs, fevers, excessive thirst and to expel tapeworms[254]. The oil from the seed is also used as an anthelmintic[240].

    The fruit is antiperiodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, laxative and tonic[240]. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of epilepsy, lung diseases, asthma, coughs etc[238]. The fruit juice is used in the treatment of insanity, epilepsy and other nervous diseases[240]. Recent research has shown that the fruits contain anti-cancer terpenes[238].

    An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[218].

    Demulcent, salve. Facilitates pus drainage[147, 176, 178].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[74, 114]. Used as a vegetable, and in pickles, curries and preserves[1, 2, 27, 61, 183]. The fruit can be eaten when it is young or old[116], it can be picked as early as one week after fertilization[206]. A juicy texture with a mild flavour, the flavour is somewhat stronger in younger fruits[206]. Because of its waxy coating, it will store for several months, sometimes as long as a year[116, 206]. Mature fruits can vary in weight from 2 – 50 kg[206]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

    Young leaves and flower buds are steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or are added as a flavouring to soups[183, 200].

    Seed – cooked[74, 114, 177, 183]. Rich in oil and protein.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on fast in a rich compost in the greenhouse. Try to maintain a minimum night temperature of at least 10¡c for the seedlings first few weeks[206]. Plant out in May/June after the last expected frosts[1].
Requires a warm sunny position in a rich well-drained soil and plenty of moisture in the growing season[1, 200, 238]. Established plants are reasonably drought tolerant[206]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 6.8. This species is not very frost hardy, it is best grown in a greenhouse in Britain[86] but can succeed outdoors in good summers if started off in a greenhouse and planted out after the last expected frosts. Plants require stable temperatures in excess of 25¡c if they are to do well[200]. Short daylengths and lower temperatures stimulate female flower development, higher temperatures stimulate male flower production[200]. Plants take 5 months from seed to produce a mature crop, though the fruits can be eaten when immature[206]. The wax gourd is frequently cultivated for its edible fruit in the tropics, there are many named varieties[183]. One group, sometimes classified as B. hispids chieh-gua, is known as the hairy melon or jointed gourd. This form is grown for its immature fruit in much the same way as courgettes are used[206]. Mature fruits of this form do not develop a waxy coating[206]. The fruit can be harvested about 3 months after sowing[206].
Tropical Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.