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Cayaponia espelina fruit.jpg
Cayaponia espelina fruit
Cayaponia tayuya.jpg
Cayaponia tayuya leaf
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Cucurbiteae
Genus: Cayaponia
Silva Manso[1]

Cayaponia espelina, Cayaponia tayuya
and others

Cayaponia is the largest genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, with about 60 species. The plants are referred to as melonleaf. They are common from the southern United States to South America. Some species are also found in western Africa, Madagascar, and Fernando de Noronha, which is about 354 km off the coast of Brazil.[2][3] It is native the southern United States to central South America and the Caribbean islands. Most species are found in rainforests and have white or yellow-green flowers. The original Cayaponia were pollinated by bats, but at least two shifts to bee pollination have occurred among some of its species. This is apparently the first clade to shift from bat to bee pollination vice bee to bat pollination.[4] A 2011 study based on genetics placed the genus Selysia under this genus.[5]

Brazilian botanist António Luiz Patricio da Silva Manso named this genus after the indigenous Cayapo people of Brazil.[6]


There are around 120 species in the genus:[7]


  1. ^ GRIN (April 1, 2009). "Cayaponia Silva Manso". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Grayum, Michael H. (December 2009). "Two New Trifoliolate-Leaved Species of Cucurbitaceae (Cucurbiteae) from Central and South America". Novon. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. 19 (4): 465–474. doi:10.3417/2007164. JSTOR 27765198.
  3. ^ "Cayaponia Silva Manso melonleaf". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Duchen, Pablo; Renner, Susanne S. (July 2010). "The evolution of Cayaponia (Cucurbitaceae): Repeated shifts from bat to bee pollination and long-distance dispersal to Africa 2–5 million years ago". American Journal of Botany. 97 (7): 1129–1141. doi:10.3732/ajb.0900385. JSTOR 27857329. PMID 21616865.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Cayaponia" (PDF). Northeastern Illinois University. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  7. ^ "Tropicos | Name - !!Cayaponia Silva Manso". Retrieved 5 March 2019.