www.zinnysworld.com    Copyright 2000-2015 by Thomas Zinneman.  All rights reserved. Balsam Pear Momordica charantia

The distribution maps for Balsam Pear are from the Plants Database of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


The Balsam Pear, also called Bitter Melon and Bitter Gourd, is a herbaceous vine that can grow up to 15 feet.  It is a non-native plant and is found in a few southern states of the U.S.  In Florida, it is found in pinelands and disturbed sites in the central and southern parts of the Peninsula.

The dark green leaves alternate on the stem and produce tendrils that wrap around what ever they can to support the vine on fences and other plants.  The leaves are hairy to smooth and can have from three to seven lobes and vary in size from two to five inches.

Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers that have five petals and average about an inch in diameter.  The male flowers produce only pollen and the female flowers produce the fruit.  The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and is oblong in shape.  It is initially green and turns yellow than orange as it ripens.  It is hollow with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with seeds and pith.  When ripe, the seeds are red.

The photos on this page were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.