- Melothria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, native to the Americas from the United States to Argentina, with introductions in Africa and elsewhere. A number of Old World species formerly in Melothria have been reassigned to Cucumis. (15)
Etymology: The genus name melothria derives from ancient Greek Melothron, meaning "apple" or "little apple", with uncertainty as to what plant it initially referred to. (11) The specific epithet 'pendula' means "hanging".
Pipinong-gubat is a perennial prostrate or climbing vine with thin and smooth stems and coiled tendrils, growing to a length of six feet or more. Leaves are alternate, toothed, shallowly or deeply five-lobed, reaching a length of 5 to 7 centimeters. Flowers are tiny, yellow, with five petals, about 0.8 centimeter wide. Fruit is a tiny, green to black, smooth, and watermelon-like berry, oblong-elliptic, 10 to 19 millimeters long, about 12 millimeters in diameter, with white spots when young, dangling at the end of the pedicel.
- Introduced to the Philippines.
Abundant in the Tagalog areas.
- Common vine in forest areas.
- Phytochemical screening of ethanolic leaf extracts have yielded alkaloids, anthraquinones, quinones, saponins, steroids, tannins, terpenoids, and xanthoproteins, with absence of carotenoids, coumarins, and flavonoids.
- Leaves smell like cucumber; fruit tastes like cucumber.
Toxicity: Toxicity is only related to consumption of ripe, black berries which is produces a drastic purgative effect. Unripe and green berries can be eaten raw. Roots, leaves, vines, and flowers have not been reported as toxic to humans. Dogs are known to eat the leaves without apparent side effects.
- Studies have suggest hypoglycemic, antiviral properties.
Leaves, tendrils, fruit.
- Young fruits are edible; eaten fresh or pickled, boiled, steam or stir-fried.
- Best eaten when fruits are unripe, green, crispy and juicy; also used as salad ingredient. Small, it has the taste of cucumber; full-sized green, it tastes like watermelon or melon.
- Avoid the dark green or black fruits as they may cause rapid and drastic diarrhea.
- In Thailand and Mexico, leaves, young shoots, tops of stems reportedly eaten, raw or cooked.
- In Surinam, infusion of tendrils taken as a drink to remedy acidity or sour stomach in children. Fruit is considered a very drastic purgative. (Purgative used probably associated with black ripened fruits.) (2)
- In Brazil, fruit used as a purgative.
- In Mexico, infusion of plant used for diabetes. (8) Used as tonic for anemia. Boiled fruits used for heart disease. Crushed fresh plant used for snake bites and applied to rashes and hemorrhoids. (7)
- In Yucatan,
infusion of entire plant used as remedy for gastritis, calculus, and sores. Crushed fresh plant used for snake bites. Fresh crushed stems applied topically to skin rash, hemorrhoids, and as anti-inflammatory. (13)
• Hypoglycemic Effect / Fruit and Leaves: Study investigated the hypoglycemic effect of homogenized fruit and ethanolic leaf extract in 75% and 100% concentration of M. pendula in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Two weeks administration of fruit and leaf extract to diabetic mice showed significant hypoglycemic effect (p<0.0001). (9)
• Anti-Viral against Herpes Simplex 1: Herpes simplex 1 is one of the most prevalent pathogens worldwide. Study using qPCR method assessed the antiherpetic activity of 72 plants extracts and identified 18 methanolic extracts, which included Melothria pendula, with anti-viral activity of ≥ 75%. The effective antiviral concentrations (EC50) were between 203 and 6.31 µg/mL, with selectivity indexes (SI) between 55.91 and 2.57. (12)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial / Leaves: Study reports on the biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using aqueous leaf extract of M. pendula. Secondary metabolites in the extract were alkaloids, saponins, and terpenoids. The AgNPs was found effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. There was not significant difference between chloramphenical and the NPs. (14)
- Seeds in the cybermarket.