Encyclopedia of Earth

Cucurbitaceae: The amazing world of cucurbits

Content Cover Image

Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca (Photo by Kurt Kulac at 2006-09-06 License: CC-BY-SA-2.5 and GNU FD, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Cucurbitaceae family represents over 90 genera and approximately 960 species. The distribution is predominantly tropical and subtropical, with only a few species occurring in the temperate regions. 

Plants are monoecious/dioecious and have tendrils (usually one per node), are either annual or perennial, and are typically herbaceous/woody/vines/climbers/trailers/lianas, or sometimes trees. Shoots are angular, herbaceous/woody/succulent with stem anatomy showing conspicuous bicollateral vascular bundles that are easy to identify even without staining. Leaves are alternate, spiral, petiolate, membranaceous/succulent, without stipules. They can be simple or compound (ternate/palmate), have margins with small glandular teeth (hydathodes), are hairy (glandular/eglandular), and have cystolith (crystals) present. Flowers are solitary or aggregated into inflorescences (racemes/thyrses/panicles/fascicles), are unisexual (rarely bisexual), epigynous, and are commonly pentamerous, and are regular (sometimes irregular). Petals are typically (3-)5(-10), entire, 2-lobed or fringed; androecium with 3-5 stamens; branched and unbranched, variously coherent, unilocular/bilocular, anthers basifixed; gynoecium monomerous/ syncarpous with (1-)3(-5) carpels, ovary inferior/semi-inferior; stigma commissural, papillate/non-papillate; placentation parietal; ovules anatropous, bitegmic and crassinucellar, embryo straight, achlorophyllous, embryogeny onagrad. Fruit is fleshy/non-fleshy, dehiscent/indehiscent, soft/hard-shelled berry (commonly)/capsule (often)/samara (rarely). Seeds are numerous, flattened, and may be either winged or wingless, with 2 flattened cotyledons without an albumen. Pollen grains multi-aperturate showing variations in different genera and species.

 

caption Figure 1. 1. Flower of Cucurbita maxima Duchesne; 2-3. Flower of bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.); 4. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.); 5. Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.); 6. Cucurbita maxima Duchesne; and 7-9. Squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma K. Koch). [Photo credits: 1-3: Ratnabali Sengupta; 4-9: Saikat Basu]

caption Figure 2: 1 & 4 Different cultivars of bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.); 2. Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina L.); 3 & 9. Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.); 5-7. Different cultivars of squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma K. Koch); and 8. Ribbed/ridged gourd (Luffa acutangula (L.) Roxb) [Photo credits: 1-3; 5-13: Ratnabali Sengupta; 4; Saikat Basu]

caption Figure 3: Fungal and physiological disease symptoms on the reproductive and vegetative parts of different members of cucurbits. 1-2. Fungal infestations of squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma K. Koch); and 3-10. Different mineral deficiency symptoms on the foliages of zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.) under greenhouse production system. [Photo credit: Saikat Basu, own work]

The family represents a wide variety of genera and species presented in table 1.

 

Table 1. Plants from the Cucurbitaceae family.

Ref.

Species & accepted Taxa

Genera

Family

USDA, 2014

Apodanthera undulata A. Gray

Apodanthera Arn.

Cucurbitaceae

USDA, 2014

Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn.

Benincasa Savi

USDA, 2014

Brandegea bigelovii (S. Watson) Cogn.

Brandegea Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Bryonia alba L.

Bryonia L.

USDA, 2014

Bryonia cretica L.

USDA, 2014

Bryonia dioica Jacq.

USDA, 2014

Cayaponia americana (Lam.) Cogn.

Cayaponia Silva Manso

USDA, 2014

Cayaponia quinqueloba (Raf.) Shinners

USDA, 2014

Cayaponia racemosa (Mill.) Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.

Citrullus Schrad

USDA, 2014

Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai

USDA, 2014

Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. caffrorum (Alef.) Fosberg

USDA, 2014

Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. citroides (L.H. Bailey) Mansf.

USDA, 2014

Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. lanatus

USDA, 2014

Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt

Coccinia Wight & Arn.

USDA, 2014

Ctenolepis cerasiformis (Stocks) Naud.

Ctenolepis Benth. & Hook. f.

USDA, 2014

Cucumeropsis mannii Naudin

Cucumeropsis Naudin

USDA, 2014

Cucumis anguria L.

Cucumis L.

USDA, 2014

Cucumis anguria L. var. anguria

USDA, 2014

Cucumis anguria L. var. longaculeatus J.H. Kirkbride

USDA, 2014

Cucumis dipsaceus C.G. Ehrenb. ex Spach

USDA, 2014

Cucumis ficifolius A. Rich.

USDA, 2014

Cucumis melo L.

USDA, 2014

Cucumis metuliferus E. Mey. ex Naud.

USDA, 2014

Cucumis prophetarum L.

USDA, 2014

Cucumis sativus L.

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita digitata A. Gray

Cucurbita L.

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita ficifolia Bouché

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita foetidissima Kunth

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita maxima Duchesne

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita maxima Duchesne ssp. andreana (Naudin) Filov

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita mixta Pang.

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita moschata Duchesne

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita okeechobeensis (Small) L.H. Bailey

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita okeechobeensis (Small) L.H. Bailey ssp. martinezii (L.H. Bailey) T. W. Walters & D. S. Decker [excluded]

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita palmata S. Watson

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L.

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L. var. medullosa Alef.

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L. var. ovifera (L.) Harz

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L. var. ozarkana D. Decker

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L. var. pepo

USDA, 2014

Cucurbita pepo L. var. texana (Scheele) D. Decker

USDA, 2014

Cyclanthera dissecta (Torr. & A. Gray) Arn.

Cyclanthera Schrad.

USDA, 2014

Cyclanthera pedata (L.) Schrad.

USDA, 2014

Cyclanthera pedata (L.) Schrad. var. pedata

USDA, 2014

Doyerea emetocathartica Gros.

Doyerea Gros.

USDA, 2014

Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich.

Ecballium A. Rich.

USDA, 2014

Echinocystis lobata (Michx.) Torr. & A. Gray

Echinocystis Torr. & A. Gray

USDA, 2014

Echinopepon coulteri (A. Gray) Rose

Echinopepon Naud.

USDA, 2014

Echinopepon wrightii (A. Gray) S. Watson

USDA, 2014

Fevillea cordifolia L.

Fevillea L.

USDA, 2014

Hodgsonia heteroclita (Roxb.) Hook. f. & Thomson

Hodgsonia Hook. f. & Thomson

USDA, 2014

Hodgsonia macrocarpa Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Ibervillea lindheimeri (A. Gray) Greene

Ibervillea Greene

USDA, 2014

Ibervillea tenuisecta (A. Gray) Small

USDA, 2014

Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.

Lagenaria Ser.

USDA, 2014

Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. ssp. asiatica (Kobiakova) Heiser

USDA, 2014

Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.

USDA, 2014

Luffa acutangula (L.) Roxb.

Luffa Mill.

Cucurbitaceae

USDA, 2014

Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.

USDA, 2014

Luffa operculata (L.) Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Marah fabaceus (Naud.) Naud. ex Greene

Marah Kellogg

USDA, 2014

Marah fabaceus (Naud.) Naud. ex Greene var. agrestis (Greene) Stocking

USDA, 2014

Marah fabaceus (Naud.) Naud. ex Greene var. fabaceus

USDA, 2014

Marah gilensis Greene

USDA, 2014

Marah horridus (Congd.) S.T. Dunn

USDA, 2014

Marah macrocarpus (Greene) Greene

USDA, 2014

Marah macrocarpus (Greene) Greene var. macrocarpus

USDA, 2014

Marah macrocarpus (Greene) Greene var. major (S.T. Dunn) Stocking

USDA, 2014

Marah macrocarpus (Greene) Greene var. micranthus Stocking

USDA, 2014

Marah oreganus (Torr. ex S. Watson) Howell

USDA, 2014

Marah watsonii (Cogn.) Greene

USDA, 2014

Melothria pendula L.

Melothria L.

USDA, 2014

Melothria pendula L. var. aspera Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Melothria pendula L. var. crassifolia (Small) Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Melothria pendula L. var. pendula

USDA, 2014

Momordica balsamina L.

Momordica L.

USDA, 2014

Momordica charantia L.

USDA, 2014

Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng.

USDA, 2014

Momordica dioica Roxb. ex Willd.

USDA, 2014

Psiguria ottoniana (Schltdl.) C. Jeffrey

Psiguria Neck. ex Arn.

USDA, 2014

Psiguria pedata (L.) Howard

USDA, 2014

Psiguria trilobata (L.) Howard

USDA, 2014

Sechium edule (Jacq.) Sw.

Sechium P. Br.

USDA, 2014

Sechium compositum (J.D. Smith) Jeffrey

USDA, 2014

Sechium mexicanum Lira & M. Nee, sp. nov.

Sechium sect. Frantzia (Pitter) C. Jeffrey

USDA, 2014

Sechium Pittiery (Cogn.) C. Jeffrey

USDA, 2014

Sicana odorifera (Vell.) Naud.

Sicana Naud.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos albus (H. St. John) Telford

Sicyos L.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos ampelophyllus Woot. & Standl.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos angulatus L.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos anunu (H. St. John) Telford

USDA, 2014

Sicyos collinus B.L. Rob. & Fernald [excluded]

USDA, 2014

Sicyos cucumerinus A. Gray

USDA, 2014

Sicyos erostratus H. St. John

USDA, 2014

Sicyos glaber Woot.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos herbstii (H. St. John) Telford

USDA, 2014

Sicyos hillebrandii H. St. John

USDA, 2014

Sicyos hispidus Hillebr.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos laciniatus L.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos lanceoloideus (H. St. John) W.L. Wagner & D.R. Herbst

USDA, 2014

Sicyos lasiocephalus Skottsb.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos macrophyllus A. Gray

USDA, 2014

Sicyos maximowiczii Cogn.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos microphyllus Kunth

USDA, 2014

Sicyos pachycarpus Hook. & Arn.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos parviflorus Willd.

USDA, 2014

Sicyos semitonsus H. St. John

USDA, 2014

Sicyos waimanaloensis H. St. John

USDA, 2014

Sicyosperma gracile A. Gray

Sicyosperma A. Gray

USDA, 2014

Telfairia Occidentalis Hook F.

Telfairia Hook.

USDA, 2014

Telfairia pedata (Sims) Hook.

USDA, 2014

Thladiantha dubia Bunge

Thladiantha Bunge

USDA, 2014

Trichosanthes anguina L.

Trichosanthes L.

USDA, 2014

Trichosanthes cucumerina L.

USDA, 2014

Trichosanthes dioica Roxb.

USDA, 2014

Tumamoca macdougalii Rose

Tumamoca Rose

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria affinis Endl. ex Walp

Zehneria Endl.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria alba Ridl.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria angolensis Hook.f.

Zehneria Endl.

Cucurbitaceae

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria angulata (Chakrav.) J.L.Ellis

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria anomala C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria backeri (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H.Schaef. & S.S. Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria baueriana Endl.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria bodinieri (H. Lév.) W. J. de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria brevirostris W. J. de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria capillacea (Schumach.) C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria cerasiformis Stocks

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria connivens Miq.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria cordata Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria cordifolia Schweinf. ex Broun & R.E. Massey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria cunninghamii F.Muell.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria cuspidata Endl. ex Walp.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria debilis Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria deltoidea Hook.f.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria dilatata Endl. ex Walp.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria ecklonis Endl. ex Walp.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria ejecta F. M. Bailey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria elbertii W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria emirnensis (Baker) Keraudren

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria erythrobacca W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria erythrocarpa F.Muell.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria exasperata Miq.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria filiformis Miq.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria formosana (Hayata) S.S. Ying

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria garcinii Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria gilletii (De Wild.) C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria grayana (Cogn.) Fosberg & Sachet

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria grayana (Cogn.) Fosberg & Sachet var. vitiensis (A.Gray) Fosberg & Sachet

USDA, 2014

Zehneria guamensis (Merr.) Fosberg

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria hallii C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria hastata Miq.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria hederacea Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria hermaphrodita W. J. de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria heterophylla Druce

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria hookeriana Miq.

EOL, 2014

Zehneria immarginata W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

EOL, 2014

Zehneria indica (Lour.) Keraudren

EOL, 2014

Zehneria japonica (Thunb.) H. Y. Liu

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria keayana R.Fern. & A.Fern.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria kelungensis Hayata

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria lancifolia (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H.Schaef. & S.S.Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria liukiuensis (Nakai) C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria longepedunculata Hochst. ex Cogn.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria lucida Hook.f.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria macrantha (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H.Schaef. & S.S.Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria macrocarpa Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria macrosepala (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H.Schaef. & S.S.Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria madagascariensis (Baker) C.Jeffrey

EOL, 2014

Zehneria marginata (Blume) Keraudren

EOL, 2014

Zehneria marlothii (Cogn.) R. Fern. & A. Fern.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria martinez-crovettoi Keraudren

EOL, 2014

Zehneria maysorensis Wight. & Arn.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria maysorensis var. oblonga V.P. Prasad & M. Prasad

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria maysorensis var. umbellata (Chakrav.) Kumari

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria membranacea Endl. ex Walp.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria micrantha (F.Muell.) F.Muell.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria microsperma Hook. f.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria minutiflora (Cogn.) C. Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria mucronata (Blume) Miq.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria mysorensis Wight

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria neocaledonica W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

Zehneria Endl.

Cucurbitaceae

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria nesophila (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H. Schaef. & S.S. Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria obtusiloba Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria oligosperma C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria pallidinervia (Harms) C. Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria parvifolia (Cogn.) J.H. Ross

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria pectinata Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria pedicellata W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria peneyana (Naudin) Schweinf. & Asch.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria perpusilla (Blume) Bole & M.R. Almeida

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria perpusilla (Blume) Bole & M.R. Almeida var. deltifrons (Ohwi) H.Ohba

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria perrieri Keraudren

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria pisifera W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria platysperma (W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes) H.Schaef. & S.S.Renner

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria polycarpa (Cogn.) Keraudren

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria racemosa Hook.f.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria repanda (Blume) Simmons

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria ridens Verdc.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria rutenbergiana (Cogn.) Keraudren

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria samoensis (A.Gray) Fosberg & Sachet

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scabra (L.f.) Sond.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scabrella F. Muell.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scabra Sond. subsp. argyrea (Zimm.) C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scabra (L.f.) Sond. subsp. argyrea (A. Zimm.) C. Jeffrey var. chirindensis C. Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scabra Sond. var. chirindensis C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria scrobiculata Hochst. ex A.Rich.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria somalensis Thulin

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria sphaerosperma W. J. de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria suavis (Schrad.) Endl.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria tahitensis W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria tenuispica W. J. de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria thwaitesii (Schweinf.) C. Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria trichocarpa W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria tridactyla (Hook.f.) R.Fern. & A.Fern

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria trullifolia W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria umbellata (J.G.Klein ex Willd.) Thwaites

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria velutina A.Rich.

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria viridifolia W.J.de Wilde & Duyfjes

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria viridis (Zimm.) C.Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria wallichii (C. B. Clarke) C. Jeffrey

IPNI, 2014

Zehneria wyleyana Sond.

 

References and Further Reading

  • Carlquist S (1992) Wood anatomy of selected Cucurbitaceae and its relationship to habit and systematics. Nord. J. Bot. 12: 347–355.
  • Gerrath JM, Guthrie TB, Zitnak TA, Posluszny U (2008) Development of the axillary bud complex in Echinocystis lobata (Cucurbitaceae): interpreting the cucurbitaceous tendril. Am. J. Bot. 95: 773–781.
  • IPNI (2014) The International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org [accessed 1 July 2014].
  • Kubitzki, K. (2011) Flowering Plants. Eudicots: Sapindales, Cucurbitales, Myrtaceae. Springer, The Netherlands.
  • Olson ME (2003) Stem and leaf anatomy of the arborescent Cucurbitaceae Dendrosicyos socotrana with comments on the evolution of pachycauls from lianas. Plant Syst. Evol. 239: 199–214.
  • Parfitt BD, Pinkava DJ, Rickel D, Fillipi D, Eggers B, Keil DJ (1990) Documented chromosome numbers 1990: 1. Miscellaneous North American vascular plants. Sida 14: 305–308.
  • Pozner R (1998a) Revisión del género Cucurbitella (Cucurbitaceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 85: 425–438.
  • Pozner R (1998b) Cucurbitaceae. In: Hunziker, A.T. (ed.) Flora Fanerogámica Argentina, fascicle 53, family 275, pp. 1–58. Córdoba: Pugliese Siena.
  • Schaefer H, Renner SS (2011) Cucurbitaceae. In: Kubitzki K (eds) Flowering Plants. Eudicots, The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 10:112-174 doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-14397-7_10
  • USDA (2014) Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Family Solanaceae. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Available at: https://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=Solanaceae&display=63 [Accessed on 28th June, 2014]
  • Zimmermann A (1922) Die Cucurbitaceen. Beiträge zur Anatomie, Physiologie, Morphologie, Biologie, Pathologie und Systematik. Vols. 1 and 2. Jena: Fischer.
 
Glossary

Citation

Basu, S., Zandi, P., Cetzal-Ix, W., & Sengupta, R. (2014). Cucurbitaceae: The amazing world of cucurbits . Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/53c856600cf297dbb4a42507

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