For something different in the vine department, look no further than snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina var. [or subsp.] anguina). It has so many interesting features: handsome, deep green leaves, showy flowers, and eye-catching fruits too. The white summer flowers (separate males and females, but both on the same plant) have five petals, each tipped with long tendril-like extensions that curl up during the day and unfurl at night. The pollinated females develop into long, slender, soft-skinned fruits that are dark green striped with white. As they mature, they gradually turn orange. On my plants, the vines reached about 12 feet in length, and longest fruit reached about 20 inches; they can get a bit even longer than that, apparently. When the fruits are fully orange, you’ll notice that they get soft toward the top and squishy at the lower end. If you cut them open, you’ll find the squishy part filled with a bright red pulp and large seeds.
The entire plant is quite ornamental, and it seems a shame to remove any of the fruits from the vine, but if you are feeling adventurous, you could explore the edible qualities as well. The shoots, leaves, and young fruits are apparently edible when cooked, and the red pulp in the fully mature fruits can be used as a tomato substitute (it does look and smell somewhat tomato-y) in soups, stews, and other cooked dishes. I have to admit that I didn’t try eating any of the fruits myself, or the red goo when cleaning the seeds! I encourage you to do some research before eating anything unusual like this. There’s a bit more information here to get you started.
Collected in September and October 2020. At least 8 seeds.
Please read the germination information as well before ordering.