Cucurbita palmata is a species of flowering plant in the squash family known by the common names coyote melon and coyote gourd. It is similar to Cucurbita californica, Cucurbita cordata, Cucurbita cylindrata, and Cucurbita digitata and all these species hybridize readily. It was first identified by Sereno Watson in 1876. These species form the only restricted xerophyte species group in the genus Cucurbita. Each member of this species group is native to the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico where they are relatively uncommon. Each group member is found in hot, arid regions with low rainfall. They prefer soil that is loose, gravelly, and well-drained. C. palmata is native to northeastern Baja California, southeastern California, and southwestern Arizona to a point near the Colorado River. The juvenile leaves of C. cylindrata, C. cordata, C. digitata, and C. palmata show a high degree of similarity, but their mature leaves are visibly different, as are their root structures. C. palmata and C. digitata are sympatric, with C. palmata separating the ranges of C. digitata at the juncture of Baja California, California, and Arizona. C. palmata fruits are diffuse green mottle that turns yellow at maturity, striped, and round.
Cucurbita palmata is a sprawling vine with rough, stiff-haired stems and leaves. The dark green, light-veined leaves are sharply palmate with usually five long triangular points.
The stiff, curling yellow flowers are 6 to 8 centimeters wide. The plant bears smooth spherical or oblate squash fruits 8 to 10 centimeters wide.
The fruits may be bright yellow to dark green and may have white stripes. The fruit is distasteful and not edible.
- Nee, Michael (1990). "The Domestication of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae)". Economic Botany (New York: New York Botanical Gardens Press) 44 (3, Supplement: New Perspectives on the Origin and Evolution of New World Domesticated Plants): 56–68. JSTOR 4255271.
- GRIN (February 17, 2005). "Cucurbita palmata S. Watson". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Puchalski, J. T.; Robinson, R. W. (1978). "Comparative Electrophoretic Analysis of Isozymes in Cucurbita Species". Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University) 1: 28.
- Bemis, W. P.; Whitaker, Thomas W. (April 1969). "The Xerophytic Cucurbita of Northwestern Mexico and Southwestern United States". Madroño (California Botanical Society) 20 (2): 33–41. JSTOR 41423342.
|External identifiers for Cucurbita palmata|
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Media related to Cucurbita palmata at Wikimedia Commons
- Jepson Manual Treatment: Cucurbita palmata
- USDA Plants Profile — Cucurbita palmata (coyote gourd)
- Cucurbita palmata — U.C. Photo gallery
- Coyote Melon Festival
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