Colocynth

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Colocynth

 

(Citrullus colocynthis), a perennial prostrate or climbing herbaceous plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. It is also known as bitter apple. The leaves are deeply pinnatipartite, with five to seven pinnately lobed segments. The plants are monoecious. The flowers are unisexual, yellow, and five-lobed. The fruits are yellow and spherical, measuring 7–12 cm in diameter; they have a dry bitter flesh. Colocynth grows in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia as far as India. In the USSR it grows in Turkmenia as an imported annual weed; it is sometimes cultivated in botanical gardens in Middle Asia and Transcaucasia. The fruits contain the glycoside colocynthin, which is a strong laxative.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.