Wax gourd

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Wax gourd, Significant Melon
Benincasa hispida compose.jpg
Wax gourd plant, flower, immature and mature fruit
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Genus: Benincasa
B. hispida
Binomial name
Benincasa hispida
(Thunb.) Cogn.
Synonyms [1]
Waxgourd, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 54 kJ (13 kcal)
3 g
Dietary fiber 2.9 g
0.2 g
0.4 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.04 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.11 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.4 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.133 mg
Vitamin B6
0.035 mg
Vitamin C
13 mg
Minerals Quantity%DV
19 mg
0.4 mg
10 mg
0.058 mg
19 mg
111 mg
0.61 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Benincasa hispida, the wax gourd, [2] [3] also called ash gourd, [4] white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, ash pumpkin, and winter melon [4] and “Chinese preserving melon” [4] is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable when mature.

Vine plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent (that is, climbing) stems or runners

A vine is any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent stems, lianas or runners. The word vine can also refer to such stems or runners themselves, for instance, when used in wicker work.

Fruit Part of a flowering plant

In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

Vegetable Edible plant or part of a plant, involved in cooking (opposed to Q3314483)

Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. The alternate definition of the term vegetable is applied somewhat arbitrarily, often by culinary and cultural tradition. It may exclude foods derived from some plants that are fruits, flowers, nuts, and cereal grains, but include savoury fruits such as tomatoes and courgettes, flowers such as broccoli, and seeds such as pulses.


It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is fuzzy when young. The immature melon has thick white flesh that is sweet when eaten. By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life. The melon may grow as large as 80 cm in length. It has yellow flowers and broad leaves. [5] The taste is rather bland. [6] [ unreliable source? ]

Wax class of chemical compounds that are plastic (malleable) near ambient temperatures.

Waxes are a diverse class of organic compounds that are lipophilic, malleable solids near ambient temperatures. They include higher alkanes and lipids, typically with melting points above about 40 °C (104 °F), melting to give low viscosity liquids. Waxes are insoluble in water but soluble in organic, nonpolar solvents. Natural waxes of different types are produced by plants and animals and occur in petroleum.

Shelf life length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use or consumption

Shelf life is the length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use, consumption, or sale. In other words, it might refer to whether a commodity should no longer be on a pantry shelf, or just no longer on a supermarket shelf. It applies to cosmetics, foods and beverages, medical devices, medicines, explosives, pharmaceutical drugs, chemicals, tires, batteries and many other perishable items. In some regions, an advisory best before, mandatory use by or freshness date is required on packaged perishable foods. The concept of expiration date is related but legally distinct in some jurisdictions.

It is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The wax gourd is widely grown throughout Asia, [7] including Java and Japan, [8] the places where it is thought to have originated. [5]

South Asia Southern region of Asia

South Asia, or Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia Subregion of Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China and Japan, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

  1. Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising parts of Northeast India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and West Malaysia.
  2. Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies and Malay Archipelago, comprises the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Java island of Indonesia

Java is an island of Indonesia, bordered by the Indian Ocean on the south and the Java Sea on the north. With a population of over 141 million or 145 million, Java is the home to 56.7 percent of the Indonesian population and is the world's most populous island. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is located on its northwestern coast. Much of Indonesian history took place on Java. It was the centre of powerful Hindu-Buddhist empires, the Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. Java was also the center of the Indonesian struggle for independence during the 1930s and 1940s. Java dominates Indonesia politically, economically and culturally. Four of Indonesia's eight UNESCO world heritage sites are located in Java: Ujung Kulon National Park, Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple, and Sangiran Early Man Site.


The name “winter melon” that is sometimes given to this plant is based on the Chinese name dōngguā (冬瓜), however, the character (guā) can also mean “gourd” or “squash”. [9] It is likely that the name “melon” is given because this gourd is sometimes candied or made into a sweet tea; see the Uses section below.


It is grown in well-drained loam and sandy soils, in warm mild climates, but will not tolerate frosts. The crops are grown in riverbeds or furrows, and needs constant irrigation during the growing season. [5]


The wax gourd requires very warm weather to grow but can be stored for many months much like winter squash. Ash gourds of the Indian subcontinent have a white coating with rough texture (hence the name ash gourd, literally, in some vernaculars). South East Asian varieties have a smooth waxy texture. It is one of the few vegetables available during winter in areas of deciduous vegetation, hence its Chinese name literally means 'winter gourd'. The Wax Gourd can typically be stored for 12 months. In India, the wax gourd is recognized for its medicinal properties in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. [8] It is also has significance in spiritual traditions of India and Yoga, where it is identified as a great source of Prana. [10]

Winter squash squash harvested and eaten in mature fruit stage; skin hardened into tough rind

Winter squash is an annual fruit representing several squash species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. Winter squash is generally cooked before being eaten, and the skin or rind is not usually eaten as it is with summer squash.

Deciduous Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally

In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term deciduous means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to the shedding of petals, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe fruit.

Vegetation total of plant formations and plant communities

Vegetation is an assemblage of plant species and the ground cover they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader than the term flora which refers to species composition. Perhaps the closest synonym is plant community, but vegetation can, and often does, refer to a wider range of spatial scales than that term does, including scales as large as the global. Primeval redwood forests, coastal mangrove stands, sphagnum bogs, desert soil crusts, roadside weed patches, wheat fields, cultivated gardens and lawns; all are encompassed by the term vegetation.

In Vietnamese cuisine, it is called bí đao, which is usually used to make soup or stew. [11] When cooked with pork short ribs, the resulting soup is traditionally thought to help produce more milk for breastfeeding mothers.[ citation needed ]

In Chinese cuisine the gourds are used in stir fry or usually combined with pork or pork/beef bones to make winter gourd soup, often served in the scooped out gourd, carved by scraping off the waxy coating. It is also chopped and candied [12] [ unreliable source? ] as wintermelon candy (táng dōng guā) to be commonly eaten at New Year festivals, or as filling for Sweetheart cake (lǎopó bǐng). It has also been used as the base filling in Chinese and Taiwanese mooncakes for the Moon Festival.

In the Philippines it is candied (referred to plainly as kundol) and is used as a pastry filling for bakpia (hopia in the Philippines). It is also an ingredient in some savory soups (sabaw) and stir-fries (guisado).

In Indian cuisine this gourd is traditionally used to prepare a wide variety of dishes. In northern India it is used to prepare a candy called petha . In South Indian cuisine, it is traditionally used to make a variety of curries, including a stew made with a yogurt base. [13] The juice of raw ash gourd(Maipawl) is used by the Mizo community of North-East India as a natural remedy to treat mild to severe dysentery. In north India, particularly in middle Himalayas, it is paired with pulses such as moong which when squashed along with winter gourd results in the making of a dish locally called bari. When dried in the cool winter sunlight it becomes somewhat hard and is used as a curry dish and eaten along with rice or chapati. This practice is done in Himalayas for quite a long time as people in mountains depend upon nature to help them survive harsh winters. This bari is a great source of iron and vitamins and eaten diversely in the mountains.

In Andhra Pradesh, it is called "boodidi gummidikaya" (Telugu language). It is used to make stews, stir fry and vadialu. Vadialu (plural; vadiam is singular) are made by chopping the gourd in small pieces and mixing with yogurt and spices, then sun-drying. To eat, vadiams are deep fried in oil and eaten as an accompaniment to rice and sambar (dish) or lentil stews.

In Kerala, the plant is called Kumbalam (കുമ്പളം) and the fruit is called Kumbalanga (കുമ്പളങ്ങ) or Kooshmandam (കൂശ്മാണ്ടം). It is traditionally used to offer 'Guruthi' (ഗുരുതി) instead of 'Kuruti' (കുരുതി) among Malayali Brahmins. It means, instead of offering someone's life in the pier, an ash gourd is cut into two as a symbolic performance in lieu human sacrifice.

In the Gujarat, is called kolu (કોળુ).

In Nepal, where it is called Kubhindo, it is cooked as a vegetable when young, but the ripe gourds are usually popular in making preserves or crystallized candied sweet known as "murabba" or "petha". [14] [ unreliable source? ]

Occasionally, it is used to produce a fruit drink with a very distinctive taste. It is usually sweetened with caramelized sugar. In Southeast Asia, the drink is widely marketed as wax gourd tea or wax gourd punch.

The shoots, tendrils, and leaves of the plant may also be eaten as greens. [15] [ unreliable source? ]

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  2. Wax Gourd, Editors of 'Encyclopædia Britannica'. Accessed on 19.11.2012.
  3. Useful Tropical Plants, 'Benincasa hispida'. Accessed on 19.11.2017.
  4. 1 2 3 , "Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database" . Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 D. K. Salunkhe and S. S. Kadam (Editors) Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage and Processing , p. 290, at Google Books
  6. Specialty Produce, 'Winter Melon'. Accessed on 19.11.2017.
  7. "Benincasa hispida - Plant Finder". www.missouribotanicalgarden.org.
  8. 1 2 T. R. Gopalakrishnan Vegetable Crops , p. 138, at Google Books
  9. MDBG Word Dictionary
  10. "Ash Gourd (Winter Melon), the "Cool" Vegetable: Benefits & Recipes - The Isha Blog". The Isha Blog. 2017-05-04. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  11. "Winter Melon Soup - Canh Bí Đao". youtube.com. 30 August 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  12. "How to make Candied Winter Melon aka Tung Kua(冬瓜糖)". 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  13. "Majjige huli with winter melon".
  14. Taste of Nepal, 'Kubhindo - Ash Gourd (कुभिन्डो)'. Accessed 19.11.2017.
  15. "~Winter Squash Leaves in Salted Coconut Milk". praneesthaikitchen.com. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2017.