What Is A Hedgehog Gourd: How To Grow Teasel Gourd Plants

Green Teasel Hedgehog Gourd Plant
teasel gourd
(Image credit: konok1a)

Upon this large blue orb we call home, there are a myriad of fruits and vegetables – many of which most of us have never heard. Amongst those lesser known are hedgehog gourd plants, also known as teasel gourd. What is a hedgehog gourd and what other teasel gourd info can we dig up? Read on to learn more.

What is a Hedgehog Gourd?

Hedgehog or teasel gourd (Cucumis dipsaceus) has many other names including (in English) hedgehog cucumber, tiger’s egg, and wild spiny cucumber. Native to eastern Africa, hedgehog gourd plants are widely grown in the coastal regions of India where they are called Kantola in Hindi and are available during the monsoon season-- late spring through summer. In fact, teasel gourd is so popular in the Konkani region on the western coast of India that it is used in many of the ritual dishes of the local monsoon festivals. Teasel gourd, known as Kakroll or Phaagil in various dialects in India, is an egg-shaped, yellow-green fruit of hedgehog gourd plants. The exterior of the fruit has a thick layer of soft spines with a crisp, juicy interior peppered with tiny seeds much like its cucumber cousin. It is used much like squash-- stuffed, fried, or pan fried.

Other Teasel Gourd Info

Teasel gourd is also said to have antibiotic properties and has long been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine to aid in blood circulation. It is most commonly eaten accompanied by rice. The most popular dish made with hedgehog gourd is called Phaagila Podi or teasel fritters. The outside of the gourd is first cut off and the fruit cut in half. The seeds are scooped out with a spoon and added to a mix of spices and chiles, which are then stuffed into each half of the gourd. Then the whole thing is dipped into batter and deep fried until golden brown. Sounds delicious! If you want to try teasel gourd, it isn’t likely that it will be easy to find, at least fresh. It is sold frozen in Indian markets, however, or you can try to grow your own. How does one grow teasel gourds?

How to Grow Teasel Gourds

Teasel gourds are tropical natives, so obviously you need a warm climate to propagate them. Teasel gourd propagation can be found in Hawaii and Baja California, if that gives you an idea of climate requirements. A warm and moist climate is optimal with acidic soil in sun to partial sun. Seed sowing is the usual method of teasel gourd propagation. Seeds may not be easy to find except through the Internet. Some varieties to look for are:

  • Asami
  • Monipuri
  • Mukundopuri
  • Modhupuri

Teasel plants are vining, so provide them with a sturdy support to climb on. Fertilize with food composed of equal parts nitrogenphosphorus, and potassium initially and then side dress with nitrogen every two to three weeks until late summer, when you can reduce the amount of food and water. At this time the fruit will be finishing ripening and hardening off. When it's time to harvest the fruit, cut the gourd from the vine with a knife or shears, leaving a bit of the stem intact. Hedgehog gourds are fairly resistant to insects and diseases, and once harvested last quite some time. Teasel gourd is an interesting and delicious addition that will enliven both the garden and your palate.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.