Colocynth, Egusi, Bitter Apple

Citrullus colocynthis

Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Citrullus (SIT-ruh-lus) (Info)
Species: colocynthis (kol-OH-sinth-iss) (Info)




Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Unknown - Tell us



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

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Bloom Time:

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 21, 2015, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Seeds germinate easily and quickly in a peat-based medium with warmth and moisture. Seedlings unfold their leaves like huge flags and are vigorous. If germinated in trays, the seedlings will quickly outgrow them. Seedlings are unfazed by heat, humidity, or full sun, and respond favorably to regular watering. Young vines expect to be growing during the rainy season, and appreciate ample moisture and sun. Creeping vines grow vigorously and rapidly, generating pretty yellow flowers as they sprawl across the landscape. Mature vines are undaunted by drought, and obtaining mature fruit requires a long growing season.

The mature melon resembles a small, round watermelon and is quite bitter (don't eat!). Each fruit yields a wealth of seeds. Unfortunately, dehulling the seeds is a t... read more


On Jan 5, 2015, abamiedaau from Kalamazoo, MI wrote:

I am Yoruba from Nigeria. I agree entirely with the positive post by another member that colocynthis is definitely a staple of most Africans that I have met in more than four continents of the world. Go on and type "egusi recipe" and you'll see the different varieties of absolutely delicious meals made out of the ground dry seeds. Harvesting the seeds is exactly as he posted. The oil extracted from the seed is fantastic when eaten with cooked yams. Enjoy.


On Jul 9, 2014, flightsfan from Aloha, OR wrote:

The information on this plant is completely wrong. The seeds are in no way toxic. They are commonly ground into a powder and eaten through out most of Africa. Commonly known as Egusi the seeds are extremely high in fats and protein and are very nutritious. The melons are inedible. Common harvest method is to allow melons to ripen then the melons are split in half and laid open face down to allow the melon flesh to rot a little before the seeds are collected. I have personally consumed significant quantities of the powdered seeds which are easily found in African markets.


On Jun 22, 2005, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

Native of Turkey abounding in the Archipelago; also found in Africa (Nubia especially), Asia, Smyrna and Trieste. It is an annual plant resembling the common watermelon at the size of an orange, yellow and smooth. Special if dried it is a powerful drastic hydragogue cathartic producing, when given in large doses, violent griping with, sometimes, bloody discharges and dangerous inflammation of the bowels. Death has resulted from a dose of 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the powder. It is of such irritant nature that severe pain is caused if the powdered drug be applied to the nostrils; it has a nauseous, bitter taste. Colocynth fruits broken small are useful for keeping moth away from furs, woollens, etc.