Ivy gourd

Coccinia grandis syn. Bryonia grandis
close-up of female flower, on the right, and male flower, on the left  (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
close-up of mature fruit cut open to show  scarlet-coloured flesh containing numerous seeds (Photo: Chris  Gardiner)
infestation (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr,  USGS)
climbing habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
leaves and tendrils (Photo: Sheldon  Navie)

C. grandis is a fast-growing perennial vine with a tuberous root stock producing annual stems that grows several metres long. It quickly covers  near by plants and can form dense mats.

Common names 
Also known as: little gourd, scarlet fruited gourd, scarlet gourd, scarlet-fruited gourd,
Flowering time 
August to September
C. grandis is believed to be native to central Africa, India and Asia. However, its long history of use, cultivation and transportation by people has obscured its origin.
State declaration 
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Naturalised in northern Queensland and in the coastal districts of northern Western Australia (e.g. Broome, South Hedland and Arnhem Land). Possibly also naturalised, or naturalised beyond its native range, in the Northern Territory.


Ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis) prefers the dry rainforests of the monsoon zone, the tropical and sub-tropical rainforests of the humid coastal zones, and riparian vegetation in these and other locations.

Impact and control methods 

This very aggressive smothering vine is regarded as being native to some parts of the Northern Territory. However, it is invasive in other parts of the world and it thought to pose a threat to the environment in many parts of Australia beyond its native range (i.e. in the monsoon zone of northern Australia and the tropical and sub-tropical humid zones of coastal Queensland and northern New South Wales).Ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis) could infest the dry rainforests of the monsoon zone, the tropical and sub-tropical rainforests of the humid coastal zones, and riparian vegetation in these and other locations. This species is already a significant environmental weed in Hawaii, where it smothers remnant native vegetation. It climbs and envelops shrubs and trees, forming a dense canopy that impedes light penetration and prevents the growth and regeneration of native plants. 

An environmental weed, but hosts pests and diseases of horticultural Cucurbitaceae crops.

Stem and leaves 

 Its leaves are arranged alternately along the stems; they vary from heart to pentagon shape and are up to 10 cm wide and long. The upper surface is hairless, lower surface hairy and bearing three to eight glands near attachment of leaf stalk with major vein branching. Margin of the leaf notched. Leaf tip is blunt. Leaf petioles (stalks) one to three centimetres long. Tendrils are unbranched.

Flowers and fruits 

 C. grandis is dioecious (male flowers are produced on separate plants to female flowers). Flowers are large, white and star-shaped. The calyx has five subulate, recurved lobes, each 2–5 mm long on the hypanthium; peduncle 1–5 cm long. The corolla is campanulate, white, 3–4.5 cm long, deeply divided into five ovate lobes. Each flower has three stamens (present as staminodes in female flowers). The ovary is inferior. The fruit is red (when ripe), ovoid to elliptical, 25–60 mm long, 15–35 mm in diameter, hairless on stalks 10–40 mm long. Seeds are tan-coloured and 6–7 mm long.

Reproduction and dispersal 

C. grandis can be dispersed from seeds as well as from broken pieces of roots and stems. Seeds can be dispersed by birds and feral pigs (PIER 2003). Seeds do not exhibit dormancy and usually germinate within 2–4 weeks at 20 °C.