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Ibervillea lindheimeri (Balsam gourd)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Ibervillea lindheimeri

Ibervillea lindheimeri (A. Gray) Greene

Balsam Gourd, Lindheimer's Globeberry, Globe Berry, Snake-apple, Balsam-apple

Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family)

Synonym(s): Ibervillea tenella, Ibervillea tripartita

USDA Symbol: ibli

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This gourd has tubular flowers with 5 spreading lobes, creamy-yellow, about 1/2 inch wide. Leaves are 1 1/2-3 1/4 inches long with 3-5 lobes, deeply cut and fine-toothed. The fruit is over 1 inch in diameter, with green stripes when young, but bright red when ripe. Before maturing it has a spiny-looking green covering which it sheds as it develops. The vine climbs 6-10 feet high by means of tendrils.

This species is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. Lindheimer immigrated to the United States in 1834 as a political refugee. He spent from 1843-1852 collecting specimens in Texas. He settled in New Braunfels, Texas in 1844 and was granted land on the banks of the Comal River, where he continued his plant collecting and attempted to establish a botanical garden. He shared his findings with many others who shared his interest in botany, including Ferdinand von Roemer and Adolph Scheele. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. In addition his name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. He is buried in New Braunfels. His house, on Comal Street in New Braunfels, is now a museum.


From the Image Gallery

30 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Pepo
Size Notes: Climbs 6-10 feet.
Fruit: Green stripes when young, but bright red when ripe.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


Native Distribution: South central Texas in dry woods, thickets, and along fence lines. Sand, loam, clay, limestone.
Native Habitat: Open woodlands, Thickets, Fence rows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Saline
Conditions Comments: The leaves and small yellow flowers of the balsam-gourd vine are attractive, but the ornamental value of this plant lies in its 1-2 inch, bright red, globular fruit. Light tolerance makes balsam-gourd a versatile plant for shade gardens. The plant will set more fruit in a sunnier setting. Climbs by tendrils so will need a shrub or trellis to clamber up.


Use Ornamental: Fruits ornamental, Attractive
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Fruit-birds
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: seed is best started in early spring
Seed Collection: Collect seed in summer when fruit is bright red and visible along roadsides.
Seed Treatment: No need to clean pulp off, it will dry and disintegrate.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Identification of vine with gourd-like fruit
June 30, 2010
We live on a farm, and I have noticed a vine that has leaves like grapes, but produces this flower, and a fruit that is rather large, shaped like a gourd, right now green in color. It is growing over ...
view the full question and answer

Are gourds poisonous, edible?
August 27, 2008
Are all the Gourds edible? How can I know which one is which? If it is not edible, is it poisonous? If not, what is stopping us from eating them?
view the full question and answer

Is balsam gourd (Ibervillea lindheimeri) poisonous or edible?
August 18, 2008
Is the Balsam Gourd edible or poisonous?
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0601 Collected May 13, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0769 Collected Sep 9, 1993 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0077 Collected Oct. 19, 1990 in Bexar County by Mollie Walton
NPSOT 0863 Collected May 4, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0476 Collected Jul 30, 1993 in Atascosa County by Louise Morrell

5 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-MM-753 Collected 2006-07-11 in Hays County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ibervillea lindheimeri in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ibervillea lindheimeri in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ibervillea lindheimeri


Record Modified: 2019-08-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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