Common Name: Sponge gourd. Tamil Name: Peerkangai.
Sponge gourd is commonly found around rural Coimbatore aggressively growing over hedges and other nearby vegetation. It is a climbing annual and tendrils are tri-fed. The plant can extend itself to over 15 meters. The leaves are 7 or 5 lobed and are basically ovate in shape. The leaf petiole is 7 cm long and leaf length around 13.5 cm. The leaf base is cordate, leaf-lobe apex is acute and leaf margin dentate. The lower side of the leaf is rough resembling a feel of sandpaper. The inflorescence is axillary; the flowers are attractive and yellow in color and measure around 6.5 cm across. The flowers are monoecious, large and have 5 petal segments. The fruit is cylindrical in shape and fibrous and can measure around 18-22 cm in length and contain several ovoid black seeds. The plant is much valued for its medicinal properties in traditional systems of Indian medicine. The dry fruit is used as a scrub. The fruit is also edible and often sold in markets.