CUCURBITACEAE - TheBackCountry

CUCURBITACEAE

The Cucurbitaceae (/kjuːˌkɜːrbɪˈteɪsii/), also called cucurbits and the gourd family, are a plant family consisting of about 965 species in around 95 genera.

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 in both the Old and New Worlds. The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food.

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.

The name Cucurbitaceae comes to international scientific vocabulary from New Latin, from Cucurbita, the type genus, + -aceae, a standardized suffix for plant family names in modern taxonomy. The genus name comes from the Classical Latin word cucurbita, "gourd".

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