We saw these remarkable plants during one of our hikes in Wadi Wurayah.
Citrullus colocynthis, commonly known as the colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, desert gourd, egusi, or vine of Sodom, is a desert viny plant.
It resembles a common watermelon vine but bears small, hard fruits with a bitter pulp. It originally bore the scientific name Colocynthis citrullus, but is now classified as Citrullus colocynthis.
Citrullus colocynthis is a desert viny plant that grows in sandy arid soils.
The flowers are yellow and solitary in the axes of leaves.
Each plant produces 15 to 30 fruits.
The seeds are grey and 5 mm long and 3 mm wide. They are edible but similarly bitter, nutty-flavored and rich in fat and protein. They are eaten whole or used as an oilseed.
The roots are large, fleshy and perennial. The survival rate is high thanks to the long tap root. The vine-like stems spread in all directions for a few meters looking for something to climb over. If present, shrubs and herbs are preferred and climbed by means of auxiliary branching tendrils.
The leaves are very similar to watermelon leaves: they are palmed, angular with 3-7 divided lobes.