Echinocystis macrocarpa Greene
Marah leptocarpa (Greene) Greene
Marah major Dunn
Marah micrantha Dunn
Megarrhiza californica Torr.
Micrampelis leptocarpa Greene
Micrampelis macrocarpa (Greene) Greene
Common Name: Chilicothe
Marah macrocarpa is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant growing from a very large, tuberous rootstock. The stems can be up to 7 metres long, they scramble over the ground, climbing into nearby vegetation for support, attaching themselves by means of tendrils.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials.
South-western N. America - California to Baja California Sur.
Pinyon-juniper woodland, Joshua tree-pinyon transition zone, coastal sage, chaparral, oak woodland, rocky hillsides, riparian woods and thickets, stream bottoms, disturbed sites; at elevations up to 1,500 metres, occasionally to 2,100 metres[
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Marah macrocarpa is native to the mediterranean-type climate of California, where it experiences long, hot summers and cool, moist winters. It is not a very cold-hardy plant, being able to tolerate short periods with temperatures falling to between -5 and -10°c[
Prefers a sunny position in a well-drained rich soil with abundant moisture[
]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[
]. Plants are often found in dry soils in the wild[
The tuberous rootstock of older specimens can weigh more than 160 kilos[
A climbing plant, supporting itself by means of tendrils[
The root is purgative[
The seed is made into a paste and used as a treatment on pimples and skin sores[
]. The oil from the seed is rubbed into the scalp to treat diseased scalps and hair roots[
The plant juices can be used as a parasiticide, rubbed onto areas of skin affected by ringworm[
A red dye is obtained from the seed[
]. It can be mixed with iron oxide and turpentine to make a paint[
The root is used to make a detergent lather[
Seed - sow early spring in pots of rich soil in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 2 weeks at 20°c. Put 2 or 3 seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant. Grow on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts.