COLOCYNTH, COLOQUINTIDA or BITTER AP PLE, Citrullus Colocynthis, a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. The flowers are unisexual; the male blossoms have five istamens with sinuous anthers, the female have reniform stigmas, and an ovary with three large fleshy placentas. The fruit is round, and about the size of an orange; it has a thick yellowish rind, and a light, spongy and very bitter pulp, which yields the colocynth of druggists. The seeds, which number from 200 tO 3oo, and are dis posed in vertical rows on the three parietal placentas of the fruit, are flat and ovoid and dark-brown; they are used as food by some of the tribes of the Sahara, and a coarse oil is expressed from them. The foliage resembles that of the cucumber, and the root is perennial. The plant has a wide range, being found in Ceylon, India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, north Africa, the Grecian Archipelago, the Cape Verde islands and the south-east of Spain.
The commercial colocynth consists of the peeled and dried fruits. In the preparation of the drug the seeds are always re moved from the pulp. Tts active principle is an intensely bitter amorphous or crystalline glucoside, colocynthin, C56H84023, soluble in water, ether and alcohol, and decomposable by acids.