All About Ivy Gourds

Ivy Gourd may not have mainstream recognition in the West, but it is a standard part of cuisine in south India and nearby regions.

Also known as scarlet gourd or tindora, ivy gourd is a tropical vine that is eaten as a vegetable.


Given its need for a tropical climate, ivy gourd only thrives in specific parts of the world. It is native to India, Southeast Asia, China, Australia and parts of Africa. Ivy gourd is a very invasive plant that grows rapidly. It is possible to see three to four inches of growth in a single day!

Farmers who cultivate ivy gourd face issues with how the plant spreads and invades nearby wildlife. Ivy gourd can quickly turn into an infestation, especially when the fruits are hand-picked by farmers. The best way to maintain the plant and keep it from invading nearby areas is to pick the fruit into plastic bags to prevent the spread of seeds.

The ivy gourd fruit has a green color when it first emerges, but transitions to a bright red shade when it is ripe.

Medicinal Value

Most Western exposure to ivy gourd comes as a result of the plant’s medicinal properties. Ivy gourd is high in iron, vitamin B2, and vitamin B1.

Ivy gourd is useful in treating asthma, bronchitis, and other ailments. Some cultures create a paste out of the leaves and apply it to the skin for treating scabies.

There is research that suggests ivy gourd may help regulate sugar metabolism. Doctors are beginning to recommend ivy gourd to diabetic patients, but more testing is necessary to determine its full value in this regard.

Ivy Gourd Recipes

The taste of ivy gourd is similar to bitter melon. It is a significant part of South Indian, Thai, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. Examples of dishes with ivy gourd include Tindora Fry, Dondakaya Curry, and Shahi Parwal.

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