This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(diminutive of Citrus, said to be in allusion to the shape of fruits and color of flesh resembling those characters in fruits of the orange or citron). Cucurbitaceae. Annual or perennial tendril-bearing herbs of three or four species, one yielding the watermelon and one the colocynth.
Climbing or long-trailing, hispid or rough, with 2-3-parted tendrils, often with a strong odor: leaves alternate, petiolate, mostly round-cordate in general outline, deeply 3-5-lobed, and the divisions often again lobed, and the segments commonly obtuse: flowers monoecious, solitary and peduncled in the If . - axils, the corollas 5-lobed; stamens 3, included and united or cohering by the anthers, and rudiments of stamens in the pistillate flowers; pistil 1, the ovary ovoid or globose, bearing a short style and 3-lobed stigma: fruit a globular pepo, morphologically 3-celled, usually smooth and with a hard rind. - tropical Africa and Asia, 2 of the species now widely distributed in warm and tropical countries.
Annual, glabrous or pubescent: leaves not rough, either deeply or moderately divided, the sinuses open and obtuse: fruit in the wild state from the size of an apple to that of a man's head, sweet or slightly bitter. tropical and S. Africa - When the fruit is sweet and edible (C. Caffer, Schrad.), it is the watermelon, or "kaffir watermelon" of S. Africa; when bitter (C. amarus, Schrad.), it is the "bitter-apple" of S. Africa The fruit now varies widely in cultivation, in size, season, shape and quality. The soft pink flesh is much prized in its natural state for eating. A form with hard and inedible white flesh is known as "citron," and the rind is used for the making of preserves (as is the rind of the true citron).
(Colocynthis officinalis, Schrad. Ciicumis Colocynthis, Linn.). Colocynth. Bitter-Apple. Perennial (in the wild), the stem angular and rough: leaves rough, 2-4 in. long, 3- or 7-lobed, the middle lobe sometimes ovate, the sinuses open and the If. in general form like that of C. vulgaris: ovary villous: fruit globose, green-and-yellow variegated, about 3-4 in. diam., intensely bitter; seeds small (1/4in. or less long), smooth. tropical Asia and Africa, now widely distributed in
The dried fruits are used in medicine (as purgative), being imported from Turkey and Spain. Sometimes cult in this country as a curiosity or in collections of economic plants; culture for officinal purposes has been attempted in New Mex., but the fruits, although larger than the official product, are reported to be less active. l H. B.