You are here
Momordica charantia - Balsam Pear
Common Name: Balsam Pear
Scientific Name: Momordica charantia
Description: Tropical vine grown as a garden annual; bright yellow flowers followed by curious, oblong, yellow-orange warty fruits that burst open when ripe; attractive, glossy green foliage
Size: Grows 12 to 15 feet high
Cultural Information: Prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained garden loam
Historical Notes: This unusual vine from the Old World tropics has been cultivated for its edible fruits since the early 1700s.1 Bernard McMahon listed this species among “tender annual flowers” in his book.2 It is generally lumped with the balsam apple, but the balsam pear has a "shorter vine and longer fruit."3
- Text from Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet
- 1. Lawrence D. Griffith, Flowers and Herbs of Early America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 28.
- 2. Bernard McMahon, The American Gardener's Calendar (Philadelphia: B. Graves, 1806), 609-10.
- 3. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2004), 150. See also Griffith, 28-29.