Cardiospermum halicacabum

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Cardiospermum halicacabum


Annual or perennial herbs or subscrubs, often much branched mainly near the base. Leaves c. 5-8 by 5-8 cm, sparsely appressed-short-hairy to subglabrous; Inflorescences patent, sparsely short-hairy, 5-14 cm long; Flowers 2-3.5 mm long, slender pedicelled. Sepals 4, concave, thin, subglabrous, green, tinged red, outer pair broadly ovate to suborbicular, 1-1.5 by 1.2 mm, inner pair suborbicular to broad-elliptic, 2-2.5 by 1.5-2 mm, with white margins. Petals obovate-cuneate to orbicular, rounded and slightly emarginate at apex, 1.5-2.5 by 1-2 mm, at the base with some woolly hairs at the margin, otherwise glabrous, white to creamy with yellowish margin; Stamens: Ovary obovoid, 2-3 mm, nearly glabrous to densely pubescent; Fruits 3-lobed, globular, 1.5-4 cm in diam., mostly sparsely short-hairy, green, reddish at base or with reddish veins. Seeds subglobular, c. 4 mm diam., dull-black, smooth, glabrous;


America present, Asia-Tropical, Tropics and Sub-tropics present
Probably of American origin, but now a fairly common weed of the Tropics and Sub-tropics; throughout Malesia.


2n = 22:


Used as a vegetable and in medicine; baskets are made from the stems, the seeds are used as beads. For more details see


1. Usually the flower developing first in every bostryx is female, all others are male.
2. In Elbert 1985 the sepals are leafy and green, and the two lower ones are not completely connate.
3. The scales of the adaxial petals are probably also crested, but the crest is here lateral, turned towards the abaxial side of the flower. The suture is inconspicuous in typical C. halicacabum, often more clearly visible and even more or less concave (the scale then becoming laterally hood-shaped) in several forms of C. corindum. The scales of the abaxial petals have a central part which is more or less fleshy, and broad membranous wings; their crests are slightly concave. Probably, these scales are coherent in the flower.
4. For the reduction of C. corindum to C. halicacabum see Cariospermum corindum is a very variable species according to Radlkofer's monograph where it is subdivided into 14 forms. All Malesian specimens represent typical halicacabum, a form which is surprisingly uniform all over the world. There is slight variation in the sizes of flowers and fruits: var. microcarpum representing the relatively small-fruited, var. luridum the big-fruited specimens. In my opinion these varieties do not deserve any taxonomic status.


Griff. 1854 – In: Notul.: 546
Steenis 1949: Fl. Sch. Indon.: 251
Backer & Bakh. f. 1965 – In: Fl. Java: 132
Craib 1926 – In: Fl. Siam. Enum.: 321
Merr. 1923 – In: Enum. Philipp. Flow. Pl.: 493
L. 1922 – In: Fl. Malay Penins.: 488
King 1896 – In: J. As. Soc. Beng.: 421
Blume 1847 – In: Rumphia: 185
Backer 1930: Onkruidfl. Suikerrietgr.: 419
Ridley 1906 – In: J. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc.: 186
Adelb. 1948 – In: Blumea: 322
Sims 1807 – In: Bot. Mag.: t. 1049
Wight 1841 – In: Ic.: t. 508
Radlk. 1932 – In: Engl., Pflanzenr. 98: 397
Hend. 1949: Mal. Wild Fl. Dicot: 59: f. 52
Hend. 1961: Comm. Mal. Wild Fl: 10: t. 2
Radlk. 1932: p. 379. – In: Engl., Pflanzenr. 98: f. 8A-C
Gagnep. 1950: Fl. Indo-Chine: 933