Momordica dioica, known as Kantola in Hindi is also known as Spine/Teasel gourd in English*, is a cucurbit that is popular in India and other parts of Asia. This gourd is small and round in shape and has spikes all around the outside of the fruit.
Kantola is prized for its many health and nutritional benefits. Spine gourd is regarded as having health benefits that range from managing blood sugar, reducing cancer risk, removing kidney stones, treating cough, improving digestion, and more. Kantola is also known for having high levels of vitamin C, Iron, and many other beneficial minerals.
Unlike most other gourds, Kantola is dioecious. This means that there are distinct and separate male and female plants. The male plant flowers provide the pollen and the female plant flowers need to be pollinated by the males to produce fruit. 1 male should provide enough pollen for up to 9 female plants. Similar to other cucuberits, female flowers can be identified by the unfertilized fruit below the flower.
Kantola on average will provide fruit within 75-80 days of sowing when grown from seed. If an established tuber survives the winter, Kantola is known to produce fruit within 35-40 days on average in the second year.
Due to the strong dormancy of the seed, a majority of the Kantola farmers use cloned tubers for their crops. This has led to a lack of genetic diversity in Kantola crops, which is not a favorable position. Agricultural scientists have taken to tissue culture and other techniques to focus on seed germination of Kantola in an effort to increase genetic diversity among Kantola crops. For this reason, Kantola plants germinated from seed are highly sought after, due to their difficulty to attain. Looking for a new gardening challenge? If you suceed, you can join the ranks of agricultural scientists in their efforts to bring more diversity to Kantola!
*It is also known as Katwal in Gujarati, Kankoda in Rajastani, Bhat korola in Bengali, Karchi-balli in Kannada, Kartoli in Marathi, Adavikakara in Telugu, Melukupakal in Tamil, and Ben-pavel in Malayalam
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** Without both a Male and a Female plant, your female flowers will not produce fruit. Male and Female plants cannot be distinguished until they begin flowering. There are no guarantees to the Male:Female ratio that the seeds will provide.
***Kantola is known to to have a strong dormancy. It can be difficult to germinate even with proper technique and conditions. Germination can take a while. Approx. 100 seed per packet are given for this reason. Mechanical or chemical scarification may help improve germination % and reduce germination time. Order at your risk.