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Edible uses


Fruit. Preserved in salt or made into a gruel[1]. The young fruits are pickled[2]. The pulp of older fruits is eaten[3]. Mature fruits are about 10cm long[4].

Leaves and young shoots - cooked and used as a vegetable[2][1]. An edible starch is obtained from the root[1]. It requires leeching[3]. The root is harvested in the autumn, cut into thick slices, soaked for 4 - 5 days in water, changing the water daily until the root disintegrates and can be mashed into a fine pulp. It is then steamed into cakes or used for making dumplings[2][5][3]. The starch is mixed with wheat or rice flour and made into crackers, dumplings, noodles etc[1].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[1].



Unknown part


Material uses

An oil from the seed is used for lighting[5].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

This plant is closely related to T. kirilowii, which is commonly used in Chinese herbalism. This plant almost certainly has the same properties which are:-

This plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[6]. Recent research has isolated a protein called 'trichosanthin' in the roots and this is undergoing trials as a possible remedy for AIDS[7]. Skin, vulnerary[8][5]. The leaf and the stem are febrifuge[6]. The fruit is antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antifungal, depurative, emollient, expectorant and laxative[9][8][10][5][7]. It is used in the treatment of pulmonary infections with yellow and thick sputum, chest pains, stuffy feelings in the chest, constipation and dry stool[10]. It has an antibacterial action against E. coli, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, B. paratyphi, Pseudomonas, Vibrio cholerae, V. Proteus etc[10]. The fruit is traditionally prepared as a winter soup to ward off colds and influenza[7]. The fruit is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[7]. The rind of the fruit is used to treat a number of ailments, including cancer, jaundice, retained placenta, bronchial infections with thick phlegm and sore throat[10][6][7]. The seed is antitussive, emollient and expectorant[6]. The root is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge, galactogogue, laxative, oxytocic, sialagogue and uterine tonic[9][8][10][5][6][7]. The fresh root has been noted for centuries as an abortifacient - a sponge soaked in its juice was placed in the vagina and induced an abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy[6]. The root is taken internally in the treatment of diabetes, dry coughs, and to assist in the second stage of labour[10][7]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[7].

The root and/or the seed is powdered and used in the treatment of mammary cancer[6].


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow March in pots in a warm greenhouse in a rich soil. Sow 2 - 3 seeds per pot and thin to the strongest plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts. Give some protection, such as a frame or cloche, until the plants are growing away well.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Trichosanthes kirilowii japonica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a rich well-drained soil and plenty of moisture in the growing season[11][4]. Sometimes cultivated in Japan for its edible fruit and medicinal uses, it is not winter hardy in Britain and usually requires greenhouse cultivation. However, it may be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual in a very warm sheltered bed outdoors[11].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Trichosanthes kirilowii japonica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Trichosanthes kirilowii japonica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Trichosanthes kirilowii japonica
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    6 x meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    2. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    4. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    5. ? Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    6. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    7. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    8. ? Kariyone. T. Atlas of Medicinal Plants. ()
    9. ? ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    10. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    12. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-58
    13. ? Flora of Japan ()

    Facts about "Trichosanthes kirilowii japonica"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyCucurbitaceae +
    Belongs to genusTrichosanthes +
    Has binomial nameTrichosanthes kirilowii japonica +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFruit +, Leaves +, Unknown part + and Root +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Oil +
    Has fertility typeInsects +
    Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone9 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useOil +
    Has mature height6 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntibacterial +, Anticholesterolemic +, Antifungal +, Antiinflammatory +, Antitussive +, Cancer +, Depurative +, Emollient +, Expectorant +, Febrifuge +, Galactogogue +, Oxytoxic +, Sialagogue +, Skin +, Uterine tonic + and Vulnerary +
    Has search nametrichosanthes kirilowii japonica +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameTrichosanthes kirilowii japonica +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheClimber +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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