Overview

Brief Summary

Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family, includes 960 species in 125 genera, with at least nine economically important crop species used for food, edible seeds, oilseeds, and fiber, including squashes, pumpkins, and gourds (Cucurbita and Lagenaria species), gherkins, cucumbers, and melons (Cucumis species), watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris), and luffas (used as vegetable sponges; Luffa species) for both food and fiber. The family is distributed through equatorial tropical and subtropical regions of both New World and Old World. Some species are found in mild temperate regions, but none are frost-tolerant.

Cucurbitaceae includes some of the most ancient cultivated plants known. Cucurbita and Lagenaria species—squashes, pumpkins, and gourds (used for as utensils and bottles)—originated in Mexico and North or Central America, and were already widely cultivated in North America before the arrival of Europeans. Archaeologists have found evidence of these species in Mexican sites dating from 7,000 BC through 1760 A.D.; they were important to the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations. Artifacts from cultivation in numerous sites in the southwestern U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado), and east to Illinois, show a record of cultivation in North America for the past 2,000 to 3,000 years.



Most species in the genus are trailing or climbing tender herbaceous annuals, although some are perennial, and a few have an upright or bushy form. Stems are hirsute to scabrous (rough, short hairs) or prickly. Leaves are simple and alternate, and often shallowly to deeply lobed, with 3–5 lobes. Climbing species have tendrils, which may be simple or branched. Most species are monoecious, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant, and are pollinated by bees and beetles.

Fruits in the genus, technically called pepos, come in an astonishing range of shapes, sizes, and colors and textures (of both skin and flesh); Cucurbita species may have the greatest diversity of any cultivated species. Fruits may be globose, oblong or elongate, cylindrical, or flattened; some have crooked or elongated necks. They range from the size of a plum to pumpkins weighing over 45 kg (100 pounds). Skin colors vary from white to cream to yellow to orange to green; some cultivars are variegated or striped. The fruit surface may be smooth, scalloped, ridged, or warty.

Different species within the genus have numerous uses as food (including oil from the seeds), fiber, traditional medicinals and animal fodder; see EOL pages for individual species. They are a globally important crop: 2009 world production of all species of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds was 22.1 million tons harvested from 1.7 million hectares, valued at $5.2 billion U.S. dollars. Leading producers were China, Russia, India, the U.S., and Egypt.

Cucurbitaceae includes the record for the world’s largest fruit, a cultivated pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) from Wisconsin that earned the Guinness World Record for largest pumpkin at a weight of 821.23 kg (1,810 lb 8 oz); see YouTube video. A similar pumpkin was carved into the world’s largest jack-o-lantern at New York Botanical Garden in 2011 (see YouTube clip).

(Bates 1990, FAOSTAT 2011, Guinnessworldrecords.com 2011, NRC 1989, Schultes 1990, Waynesword.com 2011, Whittaker and Davis 1962)

  • Bates, D.M., R.W. Robinson, and C. Jeffrey, eds. 1990. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • NRC. 1989. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available online http://www.nap.edu/catalog/1398.html.
  • Schultes, R.E. 1990. “Biodynamic cucurbits in the New World tropics.” In Bates, D.M., R.W. Robinson, and C. Jeffrey, eds. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Pp. 307–324.
  • Waynesword. 2011. The wild and wonderful world of gourds. Wayne’s Word: An online textbook of natural history. Retrieved 28 November 2011 from http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0503.htm.
  • Whittaker, T.S., and G.N. Davis. 1962. Cucurbits: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. 1962. New York: Interscience Publishers. 249 p.
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Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family, includes 960 species in 125 genera, with at least nine economically important crop species used for food, edible seeds, oilseeds, and fiber, including squashes, pumpkins, and gourds (Cucurbita and Lagenaria species), gherkins, cucumbers, and melons (Cucumis species), watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris), and luffas (used as vegetable sponges; Luffa species) for both food and fiber. The family is distributed through equatorial tropical and subtropical regions of both New World and Old World. Some species are found in mild temperate regions, but none are frost-tolerant.

Cucurbitaceae includes some of the most ancient cultivated plants known. Cucurbita and Lagenaria species—squashes, pumpkins, and gourds (used for as utensils and bottles)—originated in Mexico and North or Central America, and were already widely cultivated in North America before the arrival of Europeans. Archaeologists have found evidence of these species in Mexican sites dating from 7,000 BC through 1760 A.D.; they were important to the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations. Artifacts from cultivation in numerous sites in the southwestern U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado), and east to Illinois, show a record of cultivation in North America for the past 2,000 to 3,000 years.



Most species in the genus are trailing or climbing tender herbaceous annuals, although some are perennial, and a few have an upright or bushy form. Stems are hirsute to scabrous (rough, short hairs) or prickly. Leaves are simple and alternate, and often shallowly to deeply lobed, with 3–5 lobes. Climbing species have tendrils, which may be simple or branched. Most species are monoecious, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant, and are pollinated by bees and beetles.

Fruits in the genus, technically called pepos, come in an astonishing range of shapes, sizes, and colors and textures (of both skin and flesh); Cucurbita species may have the greatest diversity of any cultivated species. Fruits may be globose, oblong or elongate, cylindrical, or flattened; some have crooked or elongated necks. They range from the size of a plum to pumpkins weighing over 45 kg (100 pounds). Skin colors vary from white to cream to yellow to orange to green; some cultivars are variegated or striped. The fruit surface may be smooth, scalloped, ridged, or warty.

Different species within the genus have numerous uses as food (including oil from the seeds), fiber, traditional medicinals and animal fodder; see EOL pages for individual species. They are a globally important crop: 2009 world production of all species of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds was 22.1 million tons harvested from 1.7 million hectares, valued at $5.2 billion U.S. dollars. Leading producers were China, Russia, India, the U.S., and Egypt.

Cucurbitaceae includes the record for the world’s largest fruit, a cultivated pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) from Wisconsin that earned the Guinness World Record for largest pumpkin at a weight of 821.23 kg (1,810 lb 8 oz); see YouTube video. A similar pumpkin was carved into the world’s largest jack-o-lantern at New York Botanical Garden in 2011 (see YouTube clip).

(Bates 1990, FAOSTAT 2011, Guinnessworldrecords.com 2011, NRC 1989, Schultes 1990, Waynesword.com 2011, Whittaker and Davis 1962)

  • Bates, D.M., R.W. Robinson, and C. Jeffrey, eds. 1990. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • NRC. 1989. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available online http://www.nap.edu/catalog/1398.html.
  • Schultes, R.E. 1990. “Biodynamic cucurbits in the New World tropics.” In Bates, D.M., R.W. Robinson, and C. Jeffrey, eds. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Pp. 307–324.
  • Waynesword. 2011. The wild and wonderful world of gourds. Wayne’s Word: An online textbook of natural history. Retrieved 28 November 2011 from http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0503.htm.
  • Whittaker, T.S., and G.N. Davis. 1962. Cucurbits: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. 1962. New York: Interscience Publishers. 249 p.
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Comprehensive Description

Description

Climbing or prostrate, annual or perennial, monoecious or dioecious, herbs, less often woody lianes, rarely erect herbs without tendrils. Leaves alternate, palmately veined and often palmately lobed. Tendrils usually 1 at each node, rarely 0. Flowers unisexual, epigynous, axillary. Glandular bract-like "probracts" sometimes present at base of peduncles. Petals usually 5, free or united; corolla usually actinomorphic. Stamens basically 5 but commonly modified; staminodes often present in female flowers. Ovary inferior, 1(-3)-locular. Style with 2 or 3 lobes or styles 3. Fruit a capsule, berry or hard-shelled pepo.
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Ecology

Associations

Foodplant / pathogen
acervulus of Colletotrichum coelomycetous anamorph of Colletotrichum coccodes infects and damages live stem (base) of Cucurbitaceae
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
live, distorted leaf of Cucumber Green Mottle virus infects and damages Cucurbitaceae

Foodplant / pathogen
Cucumber Mosaic virus infects and damages live, reduced in number fruit of Cucurbitaceae

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Seeds disperse long distances: liana
 

The seed pods of Alsomitra, an Asian liana, employ large paper-thin wings that allow long-distance gliding dispersal.

     
  "Alsomitra, a liana growing in the tropical forests of Asia, produces its seeds packed together within a pod in sheaves of several hundred. Each is equipped with a wing on its side, which is so paper-thin as to be almost transparent. Although the seed itself is about as heavy as a pea, its wing is so large that the loading is very light, and when the whole glider is released it descends very slowly and is therefore capable of travelling for a hundred yards or more." (Attenborough 1995:18)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 2171
Specimens with Sequences: 2337
Specimens with Barcodes: 1623
Species: 610
Species With Barcodes: 510
Public Records: 1109
Public Species: 416
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Cucurbitaceae

The Cucurbitaceae are a plant family, sometimes called the gourd family, consisting of over a hundred genera, the most important of which are:

The plants in this family are grown around the tropics and in temperate areas, where those with edible fruits were among the earliest cultivated plants both in the Old and New World. The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food.[2]

Pumpkins and squashes displayed in a show competition

The Cucurbitaceae consist of about 125 genera and 960 species, mainly in regions tropical and subtropical. All species are sensitive to frost. Most of the plants in this family are annual vines, but some are woody lianas, thorny shrubs, or trees (Dendrosicyos). Many species have large, yellow or white flowers. The stems are hairy and pentangular. Tendrils are present at 90° to the leaf petioles at nodes. Leaves are exstipulate alternate simple palmately lobed or palmately compound. The flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers on different plants (dioecious) or on the same plant (monoecious). The female flowers have inferior ovaries. The fruit is often a kind of modified berry called a pepo.

Classification[edit]

Seen on this image is a selection of cucurbits of the South Korean Genebank in Suwon

The about 125 existent genera in Cucurbitaceae include 960 species. The following is the classification as given by Charles Jeffrey in 1990. However, a 2011 study based on genetics does not support this taxonomy with two subfamilies and eight tribes, but rather delineates fifteen tribes, five of them new, consisting of 95 genera rather than Jeffrey's 121.[3]

Subfamily Zanonioideae (small striate pollen grains)

Subfamily Cucurbitoideae (styles united into a single column)

Alphabetical list of genera: Abobra Acanthosicyos Actinostemma Alsomitra Ampelosycios Anacaona Apatzingania Apodanthera Bambekea Benincasa Biswarea Bolbostemma Brandegea Bryonia Calycophysum Cayaponia Cephalopentandra Ceratosanthes Chalema Cionosicyos Citrullus Coccinia Cogniauxia Corallocarpus Cremastopus Ctenolepis Cucumella Cucumeropsis Cucumis Cucurbita Cucurbitella Cyclanthera Dactyliandra Dendrosicyos Dicaelospermum Dieterlea Diplocyclos Doyerea Ecballium Echinocystis Echinopepon Edgaria Elateriopsis Eureiandra Fevillea Gerrardanthus Gomphogyne Gurania Guraniopsis Gymnopetalum Gynostemma Halosicyos Hanburia Helmontia Hemsleya Herpetospermum Hodgsonia Ibervillea Indofevillea Kedrostis Lagenaria Lemurosicyos Luffa Marah Melancium Melothria Melothrianthus Microsechium Momordica Muellerargia Mukia Myrmecosicyos Neoalsomitra Nothoalsomitra Odosicyos Oreosyce Parasicyos Penelopeia Peponium Peponopsis Polyclathra Posadaea Praecitrullus Pseudocyclanthera Pseudosicydium Psiguria Pteropepon Pterosicyos Raphidiocystis Ruthalicia Rytidostylis Schizocarpum Schizopepon Sechiopsis Sechium Selysia Seyrigia Sicana Sicydium Sicyos Sicyosperma Siolmatra Siraitia Solena Tecunumania Telfairia Thladiantha Trichosanthes Tricyclandra Trochomeria Trochomeriopsis Tumacoca Vaseyanthus Wilbrandia Xerosicyos Zanonia Zehneria Zombitsia Zygosicyos Ref: Watson and Dallwitz 3 September 2002

References[edit]

  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Cucurbits". Purdue University. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ Schaefer, Hanno; Renner, Susanne S. (February 2011). "Phylogenetic Relationships in the Order Cucurbitales and a New Classification of the Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae)" (PDF). Taxon 60 (1): 122–138. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Renner, S. S., Schaefer, H. & Kocyan, A.; Schaefer, H; Kocyan, A (2007). "Phylogenetics of Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumber (C. sativus) belongs in an Asian/Australian clade far from melon (C. melo)". BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 58–69. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-58. PMC 3225884. PMID 17425784. 
  • David Bates, Richard Robinson, Charles Jeffrey, eds. (1990). Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Cornell UP. ISBN 0-8014-1670-1. 
  • Jeffrey, C. 2005. A new system of Cucurbitaceae. Bot. Zhurn 90: 332–335.
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