Economic Botany

, 58:435 | Cite as

Allozyme, morphological and nutritional analysis bearing on the domestication ofMomordica charantia L. (Cucurbitaceae)

  • Kendrick L. Marr
  • Xia Yong Mei
  • Nirmal K. Bhattarai


Momordica charantia is grown in tropical areas for its edible fruit as well as other usages. Its original place of domestication is unknown. We collected accessions of both the domesticate and the wild-type from 43 locations in southern China, southeast Nepal, and northern Laos. Analysis of 26 isozyme loci does not clarify the place of domestication, but does strongly suggests that it was a single place because the domesticate from both Nepal and China are fixed for the same allele at all loci, including those five that are polymorphic in wild populations. Principal Components Analysis of morphological descriptors indicates that old cultivars from China are closer to the wild-type than are those from Nepal. Additional accessions, especially the wild-type, from India and Southeast Asia must be analyzed before the question of place of domestication can be fully understood. Seeds generally have higher concentrations of nutrients than the pericarp and there is little difference among accessions, whether wild or domesticated.

Key Words

Momordica charantia bitter melon domestication ethnobotany allozyme nutrition morphometric China Laos Nepal 

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Copyright information

© New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kendrick L. Marr
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xia Yong Mei
    • 3
  • Nirmal K. Bhattarai
    • 4
  1. 1.Museum of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor
  2. 2.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesMenglun, Mengla, YunnanChina
  3. 3.Royal British Columbia MuseumVictoriaCanada
  4. 4.Department of Plant ResourcesKatmanduNepal

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