Citrullus colocynthis,
Bitter Gourd, Bitter-apple, Colocynth, Vine-of-Sodom, Wild gourd,
Hebrew: אבטיח הפקועה, Arabic: حنظل , علقم

Scientific name:  Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.
Common name:  Bitter Gourd, Bitter-apple, Colocynth, Vine-of-Sodom, Wild gourd,
Hebrew name:  pakkuoth, אבטיח הפקועה
Arabic name:  حنظل , علقم
Plant Family:  Cucurbitaceae, דלועיים

Israel native plants, Send flowers online

Life form:  Hemicryptophyte
Stems:  slender, tough, angular, scabrid ( slightly rough to the touch) vine-like stems; usually lying on the ground; climbing over shrubs and herbs by means of axiliary branching tendrils
Leaves:  Alternate, entire, deeply divided, lobesnarrow, thick, glabrous or somewhat hairy
Flowers:  Monoecious, both males and females solitary, corolla pale yellow
Fruits / pods:  a globose or oblong fleshy indehiscent berry, 5-7.5cm in diameter and variegated with green and white; seeds pale brown
Flowering Period:  May, June, July, August
Habitat:  Desert, thermophilous (heat-loving)
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Deserts and extreme deserts
Chorotype:   Saharo-Arabian
Summer shedding:  Perennating

פרחים וצמחי בר בארץ ישראל

Derivation of the botanical name:
Citrullus, the Latin diminutive of Citrus, from the appearance of the fruit. Watermelon is Citrullus vulgaris.
colocynthis (Latin), Greek kolokunthis, "round gourd."
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • The standard author abbreviation Schrad. is used to indicate Heinrich Adolph Schrader (1767 – 1836), a German botanist and mycologist.
See the list of Medicinal herbs in Israel, the parts used and their medical uses to treat various diseases.

The wild gourds in the Bible were most likely the fruit of the Citrullus colocynthis. It is a groundhugging vine which grows abundantly in dry conditions. Round, yellow fruit with green spots and poisonous pulp, which fits the Elisha story (2 Kings 4:39).

Bible resources:
  1. 1 Kings 6:18
    The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen.
  2. 1 Kings 7:24
    Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.
  3. 2 Kings 4:39-40
    One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.

ישראל, פרחים, צמחי בר, תמונות, טבע, מידע