Kingdom : Plantae
(unranked) : Angiosperms
(unranked) : Eudicots
(unranked) : Rosids
Order : Cucurbitales
Family : Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily : Cucurbitoideae
Tribe : Benincaseae
Subtribe : Benincasinae
Genus : Benincasa
Species : B. hispida
Binomial name : Benincasa hispida
The winter melon, also called white gourd, ash gourd, or "fuzzy melon", is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable when mature. It is the only member of the genus Benincasa.Ash gourd, also called wax gourd, is a tropical crop related to the cucumber. The large fuits are eaten as a vegetable.Yellow flowers are either male or female.Ash gourd has separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Cross pollination is by insects. 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
|winter melon seeds|
Winter melon is also a common name for members of the Inodorus cultivar group of the muskmelon (Cucumis melo L), more commonly known as casaba or honeydew melons.
Ash gourd fruits are used as a vegetable. They can be used green, for example in curries, or ripe. Also the tender leaves and twigs of ash gourd are eaten as leafy vegetables.
In China and Taiwan, the winter melon is used to make soup in the same way as daikon radishes, and is often combined with pork or pork/beef bones. In North India and Pakistan, the vegetable is used to prepare a
|tender winter melon ready for vegetable|
candy called Petha. In South Indian cuisine, it is used to make curries. Occasionally, it is used to produce a fruit drink which has a very distinctive taste. It is usually sweetened with caramelized sugar, which enhances
|winter melon flower|
the taste. In Southeast Asia, the drink is widely marketed as winter melon tea. In China, the winter melon is
|ash melon plants|
dried and sweetened and eaten at New Year festivals. In China and Taiwan, it is one of the basis of mooncake for the yearly Moon Festival.
The winter melon requires very warm weather to grow but can be kept through the winter much like winter
|matured ash melon|
squash. The winter melon can typically be stored for 12 months. The melons are used in stir fry or to make winter melon soup, which is often served in the scooped out melon, which has been intricately decorated by
scraping off the waxy coating.
The shoots, tendrils, and leaves of the plant may also be eaten as greens.
Ash gourds have cylindrical or oval fruits which can reach a length of 80 centimeters and sometimes longer. The diameter is upto 30 centimeters. When immature, the fruits have a thick white flesh with a sweet taste.
Mature fruits are not hairy but develop a waxy coating. Mature fruits are not sweet; the whitish flesh is rather tasteless The waxy coating provides a long shelf life; ash gourd fruits can often be kept for a year or longer.
Green elliptical fruit covered with white powder. Smooth flesh. Fruit weighs 6-8 kg, length 25-30 cm, diameter 20-25 cm