Praecitrullus fistulosus: A Miraculous Plant


Shweta Gautam1, Priya Singh2 and Yogesh Shivhare1*

1Department of Pharmacognosy, RKDF College of Pharmacy, Bhopal (M.P.), India

2Department of Pharmacognosy, Lakshminarain College of Pharmacy, Bhopal (M.P.), India

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Many herbal remedies have been employed in various medical systems for the treatment and management of different diseases. During past several years, there has been growing interest among the usage of various medicinal plants from traditional system of medicine for the treatment of different ailments. Traditional system of medicinal consists of large number of plants with various medicinal and pharmacological importances and hence represents a priceless tank of new bioactive molecules. Genus Praecitrullus fistulosus is very similar to Citrullus in its morphological characters, but differs in the stratification of pollen grains, haploid chromosome number and to some extent in leaf morphology. This review attempts to encompass the available literature on Praecitrullus fistulosus with respect to its pharmacognostic characters, chemical constituents, summary of its various pharmacological activities and traditional uses.


KEYWORDS: Praecitrullus fistulosus, Citrullus, Ecology




Plants have played a significant role in maintaining human health and improving the quality of human life for thousands of years and have served humans as well as valuable components of medicines, seasonings, beverages, cosmetics and dyes. Herbal medicine is based on the premise that plants contain natural substances that can promote health and alleviate illness.1 Herbal plants produce a variety of chemical compounds that act upon the body and are used to prevent or treat disease or promote health and well-being. Herbal drugs have increasingly been used worldwide during the last few decades as evidenced by rapidly growing global and national markets of herbal drugs.2 Herbal medicines are in great demand in the developed as well as developing countries for primary healthcare because of their wide biological and medicinal activities, higher safety margins and lesser costs.3 Herbal medicines may be associated with a broad variety of microbial loading and exert an important impact on the overall quality of herbal products and preparations. Generally, herbs are valued for their distinctive aroma, colour and flavor. Analysis of most frequently used plant-based therapies in the ayurvedic system revealed that 43% of them have been tested on humans, while 62% have been the subject of one or more animal studies.4


This review attempts to include the existing literature on Praecitrullus fistulosus with respect to its pharmacognostic characters, chemical constituents, synopsis of its various pharmacological activities and traditional uses.


Praecitrullus fistulosus:

The Cucurbitaceous are mostly prostrate or climbing herbaceous annuals comprising about 90 genera and 700 species that are further characterized by commonly having 5-angled stems and coiled tendrils.


Origin and geographical distribution:

Praecitrullus fistulosus is cultivated as a vegetable in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The origin is probably north-western India, where wild types may still be found in the wild. In Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and Rajasthan it is quite important as a cultivated market vegetable. The Hindi name ‘tinda’ is commonly used in other parts of the world. In Africa it is cultivated locally, mainly in East Africa, as a vegetable for the Asian population. In Ghana and Kenya it is grown as an export commodity for the United Kingdom market. It is also grown on a small scale in the United States.5



Citrullus fistulosus (Stocks), Praecitrullus fistulosus (Stocks), Citrullus lanatus, Citrullus vulgaris var fistulosus (Stocks), Colocynthis citrullus var. fistulosus (Stocks).6



Tinda is mainly cultivated in the lowlands from sea-level up to approximately 1000 m altitude. It likes warm, sunny conditions of 25–30°C at daytime and 18°C or more during the night and performs less well in cooler and humid areas. In India it is either grown in the dry season (February to end of April) or in the rainy season (mid-June to end of July). Tinda prefers light or sandy soils where its roots can penetrate easily. Moderately fertile to fertile soil is required for early closure of the vegetative cover.


Diseases and Pests:

The most serious fungal diseases are downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis) and to a lesser extent powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum and Sphaerotheca fuliginea), which can be controlled by spraying a carbamate fungicide. Choanephora cucurbitarum causes wet rot of the fruit and another major disease of the fruit is anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. There are also several virus diseases that can cause severe fruit abortion, defoliation and fruit distortion. These viruses are usually transmitted by aphids, thrips and white flies (Bemisia tabaci). Virus infections can be reduced by spraying appropriate insecticides and by early planting before the heavy rains. The most serious pests are melon fruit fly (Dacus spp.) and leaf beetles (Epilachna chrysomelina), which can be controlled with insecticides.7


Morphological characteristics: 8


Leaves are alternate and usually palmately 5-lobed or divided, stipules are absent.   Leaves sparingly pinnatifid, lamina sparsely hispid all over, densely hispid on veins and veinlets of under surface, margin minutely denticulate, apparently entire, young leaves villous to densely hispid. Probract spathulate 0.8 cm long.



Flowers are actinomorphic and nearly always unisexual. The perianth has a short to prolonged epigynous zone that bears a calyx of 3-6 lobes and 3-6 petals or more frequently a 3-6 lobed sympetalous corollas. The androecium is highly variable, consisting of basically 5 distinct to completely connate stamens that frequently are twisted, folded or reduced in number. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 2-5 carpels, generally with one style and as many style branches or major stigma lobes as carpels, and an inferior ovary with one locule and usually numerous ovules on 2-5 parietal placentae or 3 locules with numerous ovules on axile placentae.



The fruit is a type of berry called a pepo by Gerald Carr. The fruit is approximately spherical, and 5–8 cm in diameter. Fruit about the size of a small turnip, depressed at each end, hispid when young afterwards glabrous.


Levels of seed proteins in Citrullus and Praecitrullus accessions:

Variation among 17 accessions of Citrullus lanatus from different geographic regions and interspecific relationships of six taxa of Citrullus and Praecitrullus were studied using electrophoretic patterns of their seed storage proteins. Globulins, the salt soluble proteins, represented the major fraction with their proportion varying between 56.6% and 67.0%. These were followed by albumins (16.6-20.8%) and glutelins (13.5-18.5%) with prolamins as the lowest (2.2-4.1%) of the four fractions. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis under non reducing conditions in the first dimension and reducing conditions in the second revealed disulphide-bonded subunit pairs of molecular weight 53, 52, 50 and 41 kDa, unlike the single subunit pair generally reported in different cucurbits, each consisting of a large and a small subunit. In the UPGMA dendrogram based on polypeptide patterns, the occurrence of C. lanatus var. lanatus, C. lanatus var. citroides and C. lanatus accession PI 482318 in one sub cluster suggested that phylogenetically C. lanatus var. citroides and C. lanatus var. lanatus are closely related. The recently described annual wild species, Citrullus rehmii, occurred independently nearest to the subcluster of these cultivated and wild taxa. Citrullus colocynthis, the perennial wild species occurred farther from this cluster showing relatively more genetic distance from the watermelons. Praecitrullus fistulosus was out clustered and appeared genetically distant from all the Citrullus taxa; this supported its placement in a separate genus unlike its nomenclature as a botanical variety of watermelon or as a separate species of Citrullus proposed in certain earlier studies. 9


Thiamin  Carotene

Ascorbic acid,               Riboflavin,                  Niacin


Traditional uses 10, 11

Praecitrullus fistulosus may be a useful source of resistance to whiteflies for the improvement of watermelons. Tinda is an immature fruits are used in rayata or vegetable curries. The seeds of tinda are roasted and consumed in the same way as watermelon or egusi seeds. In India tinda is used as fodder and in medicine. The entire immature fruit is used as a cooked vegetable. In India the fruits are also pickled and candied.


Table 1 Vernacular names of Praecitrullus fistulosus 12


Vernacular names


Indian round melon, Indian round gourd, Round gourd, Round melon. Indian Round Gourd, Indian Round Melon, Round Gourd, Round Melon, Round-Melon, Squash-Melon, Tinda.






Matyangre pharsi, Tinda pharsii (Tinda pharsi).






Tinda kaaya




Table 2 Chemical constituents 13, 14

Chemical constituents

Quantity (per100g edible portion)

























Ascorbic acid




















Fig 1 Fruits of Praecitrullus fistulosus 

Fig 2 Fresh fruits of Praecitrullus fistulosus

Fig 3 Flower of Praecitrullus fistulosus

Fig 4 New born plant of Praecitrullus fistulosus



The above collected information regarding the Praecitrullus fistulosus is revived to congregate the ethno –botanical, phytochemical and pharmacological information. Further evaluation needs to be carried out on Praecitrullus fistulosus in order to investigate the obscured areas and their practical clinical applications, which can be used for the interests of the mankind.



Mr. Yogesh Shivhare and Miss Priya Singh, the authors, would like to express their heartfelt thanks to Dr.A.K. Singhai, Principal, Lakshmi Narain College of Pharmacy, Bhopal and Mr. Rakesh Punekar, Vice-principal, RKDF College of Pharmacy, Bhopal (M.P.) for constant support during this work.



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Received on 13.03.2011          Accepted on 22.04.2011        

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