An occurrence of Indo-Chinese taxon Momordica subangulata Blume subsp. subangulata (Cucurbitaceae) in Nagaland: a new distribution record from India


Soyimchiten 1, K. Pradheep 2, K. Joseph John 3 & E. Roshini Nayar 4



1,2,4 Division of Plant Exploration and Germplasm Collection,

ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi 110012, India

3 ICAR-NBPGR Regional Station, Thrissur, Kerala 680656, India

1, 2 (corresponding author), 3, 4






Editor: N.P. Balakrishnan, Retd. Joint Director, BSI, Coimbatore, India. Date of publication: 26 November 2015 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # o4230 | Received 09 January 2015 | Final received 04 June 2015 | Finally accepted 14 September 2015


Citation: Soyimchiten, K. Pradheep, K.J. John & E.R. Nayar (2015) An occurrence of Indo-Chinese taxon Momordica subangulata Blume subsp. subangulata (Cucurbitaceae) in Nagaland: a new distribution record from India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(14): 8182–8184;


Copyright: © Soyimchiten et al. 2015. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: This work was carried out under the project (PGR/PGC-BUR- DEL-01.02) funded by the parental institute i.e. ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi.


Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The authors express their sincere thanks to the Director, NBPGR, New Delhi for the facilities rendered during the course of study.






The genus Momordica L. is an Old World genus that comprises 60 species (Schaeffer & Renner 2011) distributed in the warm tropics, predominantly in Africa. Six species have been reported from India (Joseph & Antony 2010) including two monoecious and four dioecious species. Later Renner & Pandey (2013) included two more species under this genus viz. Momordica denudata (Thwaites) C.B.Clarke and M. cymbalaria Fenzl ex Naudin in their enumeration of the species of Indian Cucurbitaceae, but this awaits proper justification. During the survey and field collection of crop genetic resources in Tuensang District of Nagaland, the authors came across male and female populations of Momordica subangulata Blume. After critical study it was found that the taxon conspicuously differs from subsp. renigera (Assamese: Bhat karela) in general habit, floral and fruit characters, which is commonly found in the wild in the northeastern hill region and also cultivated for its edible immature fruits. After consulting relevant literature and matching digital images of herbarium specimens of Paris Herbarium (P), the taxon is identified as Momordica subangulata Blume subsp. subangulata.



Momordica subangulata Blume subsp. subangulata

Blume in Bijdr. Fl. Ned. Ind. 15: 928. 1826; Backer in Backer & Bakh.f., Fl. Java 1: 299. 1963; Keraudren in Aubreville & J.-F. Leroy, Fl. Cambodge, Laos & Vietnam 15:41. 1975; de Wilde & Duyfjes in Bot. Zhurn. (Moscow & Leningrad) 87(3): 145–148. 2002; A. Lu & C. Jeffrey in Fl. China 19: 28–30. 2011(Images 1 & 2).

Perennial herbaceous climber, up to 5m long. Stems: slender, angular-sulcate, glabrous. Leaves: simple; petioles 6–7 cm long, glabrous, eglandular; lamina thin, dark green above and pale green below, broad ovate-reniform, subangulate, 8.5–9.5 x 8–8.5 cm, glabrescent, base deeply cordate (sinus narrow) with 3–5 prominent reticulate veins, apex acute-acuminate, margins undulate and coarsely denticulate, each tooth terminating in slightly protruding vein tips. Tendrils: simple, short. Flowers: solitary in leaf axils, deep yellow, ca. 5cm in diameter. Staminate flowers: at bud stage rotund, subtended and enclosed within a bract; peduncles 6–7 cm long, pedicels 0.4–0.5 cm long; bracts slightly velvety, yellow, cucullate, broadly ovate with greenish dorsal longitudinal veins, 2.5 x 2.5 cm, base cordate, apex mucronate; calyx saucer-shaped, purplish black, sepals 5 united at base, lobes obovate-spathulate, 0.6–0.7 x 0.9–1 cm, glabrous, apex retuse; corolla broadly campanulate, petals five, free, oblong-elliptic, 3–3.5 x 1.5–1.7 cm, apex subobtuse, velvety, two dark blotches each at the base of three inner petals; stamens three, filaments free, 0.3cm long, dark purple, anthers three, two 2-thecous, one 1-thecous, 0.5cm long. Pistillate flowers: solitary, peduncles 12–14 cm long, bract minute, rudimentary, greenish, located at about 1cm above the base of peduncle; sepals five, greenish, subulate 0.5 x 0.15 cm, persistent; corolla as in male, but possesses only one slightly big, diffused, black blotch in each of the three inner petals at the base; ovary inferior, 3-carpellate, oblong, 1 x 0.4 cm, muriculate; style stout, simple below, branched just below stigma, pale yellow, 0.4–0.5 cm long; stigmas three, coalesce, deep yellow, each 2-lobed; Fruit: stalk 12–15 cm long; immature one dark green; pepo ovoid-ellipsoid, glabrous, 4–5 x 3 cm, irregularly ribbed or with broken ridges primarily along five longitudinal lines. Mature fruits and seeds not seen.










Flowering: June–August; Fruiting: August–October.

Ecology: Found creeping on ground or climbing over bushes in subtropical broad-leaved wet-hill forests, along mountain slopes near forest margin and roadsides, at altitudes between 1650m and 1850m. Associated species are Girardinia diversifolia (Link) Friis, Trichosanthes sp. and Urena lobata L.

Distribution: World: China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan), Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (Lu & Jeffrey 2011); India: Nagaland.

Uses: Apart from immature fruits, young shoots are eaten in Thailand after cooking in a curry or steaming or boiling and eating with chilli sauces (JIRCAS 2010).

Specimens collected: 1684 (NHCP21664), 12.viii.2014, (female twig), 3km from Tuensang Town to Kuthur, Tuensang District, Nagaland, India, 1827m, 26012’23.89”N & 94048’37.11”E, coll. K. Pradheep & Soyimchiten; 1685 (NHCP21665), 12.viii.2014, (female twig), 3km from Tuensang Town to Kuthur, Tuensang District, Nagaland, India, 1827m, 26012’23.89”N & 94048’37.11”E, coll. K. Pradheep & Soyimchiten; 1686 (NHCP21666), 12.viii.2014, (male twig), 2km from Tuensang Town to Kuthur, Tuensang District, Nagaland, India, 1679m, 26012’47.77”N & 94048’45.63”E, coll. K. Pradheep & Soyimchiten. All three specimens were deposited at NHCP, NBPGR, New Delhi (Image 3).

Population: Authors could observe only five plants (3-female, 2-male) in two sites located within 1km distance. Its rarity has been apparent from villagers (n=8) unaware of its presence.

Notes: Momordica subangulata subsp. subangulata can be easily distinguished from the commonly available M. subangulata subsp. renigera by the characters mentioned in Table 1. It was mentioned in the literature (de Wilde & Duyfjes 2002; Lu & Jeffrey 2011) those perianths of female flowers are similar to that of the male flower. However examination of female flowers in our collection indicated that sepals were greenish, thin, subulate (not dark-purplish, broad, ovate as in the male flower), and their peduncles also longer (13–14 vs. 6–7(–10) cm reported); both the observations match with the line diagram in the Flora of China (Lu & Jeffrey 2011) and the Flora of Guangxi (Li & Liang 1991). We observed one female plant with flowers having big bracts in the middle of peduncle similar to that of male flowers (without rudimentary bracts below). Such a kind of sex reversal has been occasionally found among the members of Cucurbitaceae. The germplasm of this dioecious taxon should be conserved as it might be a future potential candidate for food security.












de Wilde, W.J.J.O. & B.E.E. Duyfjes (2002). Synopsis of Momordica (Cucurbitaceae) in South East Asia and Malesia. Botanicheskii Zhurnal (Moscow & Leningrad) 87(3): 132–148.

JIRCAS (2010). Local Vegetables of Thailand. Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, Ibaraki, Japan, 79pp.; Electronic version accessed 5 January 2015.

Joseph, J.K. & V.T. Antony (2010). A Taxonomic Revision of the Genus Momordica L. (Cucurbitaceae) in India. Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources 23(2): 172–184.

Lu, A. & C. Jeffrey (2011). Momordica, in: W. Zhengyi, P. H. Raven & H. Deyuan (eds.), Flora of China, Vol. 19. Science Press, Beijing, and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louispp. 28–30; Electronic version accessed 5 January 2015.

Li, S.G. & C.F. Liang (eds.) (1991). Flora of Guangxi, Vol.1. Guangxi Science and Technology Press, Nanning, China, 697pp., accessed 5 January 2015.

Renner, S.S. & A.K. Pandey (2013). The Cucurbitaceae of India: Accepted names, synonyms, geographic distribution,and information on images and DNA sequences. PhytoKeys 20: 53–118; 20.3948

Schaefer, H. & S.S. Renner (2011). Phylogenetic relationships in the order Cucurbitales and a new classification of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Taxon 60 (1): 122–138.