pronounced: koo-ker-bit-AY-see-eye

the squash family


Cucurbita is the Latin word for a gourd. The Cucurbitaceae are mostly prostrate or climbing herbaceous annuals, commonly having 5-angled stems and coiled spring-like tendrils. The leaves are alternate and usually 5-lobed or divided, with long petioles. They have no stipules. In most species the plants are monoecious, the flowers with 5 petals, the males with up to 5 stamens, often fused or joined in a complex way, and the females usually with 3 carpels, and with an inferior ovary. The fruits are a type of berry called a pepo, large and fleshy, with yellow or orange flesh rich in carotenoids, and usually with a hard rind. The seeds are flattened, and sometimes have wings.

Photograph © Donald Simpson