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Research Article Open Access

An Inventory of the Diversity and Ethnomedicinal Properties of Cucurbitaceous Vegetables in the Homestead Gardens of Sub Himalayan Districts of West Bengal, India.


Cucurbits are group of vegetable crops belong to family cucurbitaceae. Apart from nutraceuticals and phytomedicinal properties, cucurbits are rich in several minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres. Homestead gardens are traditional ex-situ conservation sites for crop biodiversity. The agro-climatic condition of sub Himalayan West Bengal is ideally suited for cultivation of different cucurbitaceous vegetables including cucumber, bottle gourd, pumpkin, ridge gourd, sponge gourd, pointed gourd, spine gourd, ash gourd, bitter gourd, snake gourd, water melon, muskmelon, chow chow, ivy gourd etc, a majority of which are available in homestead gardens. Among individual crop, variability exists in fruit shape, fruit size, fruit colour, fruit length, fruit lustre, stem shape, seed size, 100 seed weight etc. The rich diversity remains unexploited for crop improvement, which may offer tremendous scope for utilization in food and nutritional security. These plants are having wide ethnomedicinal properties. To understand the pattern of biodiversity and ethnomedicinal uses under different home garden system an exploration was carried out during 2011 and 2012 covering two sub Himalayan districts namely Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri. Information was collected through questionnaire survey and field observation in selected villages. The findings revealed that morphological variability exists within the crop species and cultivars. Successful exploitation will lead to higher profitability and stability in production, increase home herbal remedy and reduce the risks of unexpected natural calamity.

Ranjit Chatterjee and Soumen Maitra

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