Cucurbita flower with insects
Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in the Andes and Mesoamerica and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds (the squashes, pumpkins and marrows, and the chilacayote), as well as some species grown only as gourds. These gourds (and other squashes) come in many colors, including blue, orange, yellow, red, and green. They have bicollateral vascular bundles. Many North and Central American species are visited by specialist pollinators in the apid group Eucerini, especially the genera Peponapis and Xenoglossa, and these bees can be very important for fruit set.
Cucurbita species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including cabbage moths, Hypercompe indecisa, and turnip moths. Cucurbitin is found in Cucurbita seeds.
Several species of Cucurbita are native to North America, including Cucurbita foetidissima (buffalo gourd), Cucurbita digitata (calabazilla), and Cucurbita palmata (coyote melon). These plants produce gourds and form large, fleshy, tuber-like roots. Some species, however, are native to South America, including Cucurbita pepo.
- C. argyrosperma
- C. cordata
- C. digitata – fingerleaf gourd
- C. ecuadorensis
- C. ficifolia – figleaf gourd, chilacayote
- C. foetidissima – stinking gourd, buffalo gourd
- C. lundelliana
- C. maxima – winter squash, pumpkin
- C. mixta – pipian, cushaw pumpkin
- C. moschata – butternut squash, 'Dickinson' pumpkin
- C. okeechobeensis
- C. palmata
- C. pedatifolia
- C. pepo – acorn squash, field pumpkin, yellow summer squash, zucchini, small multicolored gourds
- C. radicans – calabacilla, calabaza de coyote
Cucurbita species are often used as food, either for their fruit or the seeds lying within. The winter varieties have thick, inedible skins, and so store well. They are also very sweet. Summer squash, on the other hand, have a very thin skin, which can be eaten. The seeds inside can be ground into a flour or meal, roasted and eaten whole, made into pumpkinseed oil, or otherwise prepared.
Cucurbita Stem Longitudinal section 100X
Cucurbita Stem Longitudinal section 400X
See also