Snake Bean

(Trichosanthes cucumerina) Snake bean is native to southern and eastern Asia and the western Pacific Islands, and it was most likely domesticated in India. “Trichosanthes” is Greek for “hairy flower,” which perfectly describes this vine’s fragrant, delicate night-blooming flowers. This oddly shaped member of the gourd family is a staple in Asian cuisines and goes by many names: snake gourd, serpent gourd, chichinga, padwal, and snake tomato. Snake bean revels in heat and humidity, and it should be grown up a trellis or fence. Trichosanthes cucumerina is notoriously slow/spotty in germinating. Some growers will gently crack the outer seed coating and soak seeds in warm water for 2-12 hrs before planting to improve germination. Sow seeds in a humid, warm environment. Some growers will sow seeds into pots, water and cover in plastic wrap until germinated (about 10 days). Others use a heat mat to warm soil and keep in a warm, sunny area. Once the snake bean has germinated, it is a quick- to-grow annual vine that needs a trellis or fence to grow up and the flowers will only form fruit when there are warm nights. Be sure to grow this 55-65 day crop in the hottest part of your growing season! Harvest when fruit are small or medium in size, no longer than 24 inches long.

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