1.2- Species Cucurbita ficifolia– Fig leaf Gourd, Asian Pumpkin, Siam Pumpkin + Overview Cucurbita ficifolia is a creeping or climbing plant in the genus Cucurbita, in the tribe Cucurbiteae, in the subfamily Cucurbitoideae of the cucumber family Cucurbitaceae. Cucurbita ficifolia is a monoecious, annual-although persistent for a certain period, giving the impression of being a short-lived perennial-without swollen reserve roots. Cucurbita ficifolia, which has many common names in English, is a type of squash grown for its edible seeds, fruit, and greens. Although it is closely related to other squashes in its genus, such as the cucumber, it shows considerable biochemical difference from them and does not hybridize readily with them. + Common names and Synonyms - Common names in English Fig-leaf gourd, Fig leaf squash, Asian pumpkin, Siam pumpkin, Malabar gourd, Cidra, Sidra, Black-seed squash, Pie melon and Thai marrow. - Synonyms Cucurbita melanosperma A.Braun ex Gasp. Cucurbita mexicana Dammann Pepo ficifolia (Bouché) Britton Pepo malabaricus Sageret
2- Characteristics of the Species Cucurbita ficifolia - Fig Leaf Gourd
2.1- Description + The plants Cucurbita ficifolia is a creeping or climbing plant, monoecious, annual although persistent for a certain period, giving the impression of being a short-lived perennial - without swollen reserve roots. It is resistant to low temperatures but not to severe frosts. Like most members of the Cucurbita species, it is a climbing vine that is an annual in temperate climates and a perennial in tropical zones. Unlike some other Cucurbita species, it does not have swollen storage roots. The plant stem can grow five to fifteen meters and produces tendrils that help it climb adjacent plants and structures. It has five vigorous, slightly angular stems. It may root from the leaf axils, unlike most other curcubits. The vine can become semiwoody if left to grow perennially, although most commercial plants are annual. + The leaves Its leaves resemble fig leaves, hence its most common name in English - fig-leaf gourd - and its Latin species name (Cucurbita ficifolia which means fig leaf). The leaves with 5 to 25 cm petioles that are ovate-cordate to suborbicular-cordale, with or without white spots on the surface, and have three to five rounded or obtuse, apiculate lobules, the central one bigger than the lateral ones. They have denticulate margins and three to four ramified tendrils.
+ The flowers The plant is monoecious with imperfect flowers (meaning its flowers are either male or female but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by insects, especially bees. The color of the flowers is yellow to orange. The flowers are pentamerous, solitary, and axillary. The male flowers are long and pedicellate, have a campanulate calyx that is 5 to 10 mm long and almost as wide, 5 to 15 x 1 to 2 mm linear sepals and a tubular-campanulate corolla that is rather broader towards the base, 6 to 12 cm long and yellow to pale orange. They have three stamens. The female flowers have sturdy peduncles, 3 to 5 cm long, an ovoid to elliptical, multilocular ovary: sepals that are occasionally foliaceous and a corolla that is somewhat larger than that of the male flowers. They are of a thickened style and have three lobate stigmas. + The fruits The fruit is oblong, resembling a watermelon, with wide black seeds. In stark contrast to other Cucurbita, its fruit is highly uniform in size, shape, and color. The fruit is oblong with a diameter of 20 centimeters or eight inches, weighs 5 to 6 kilograms (eleven to 13 pounds), and can produce up to 500 seeds. Its skin can vary from light or dark green to cream. One plant can produce over 50 fruit. The fruit can last without decomposing for several years if kept dry after harvest. A fairly large, oblong fruit and a member of the melon family. Fruits look a bit like a speckled watermelon and are quite popular in Latin America. The fruit is globose to ovoid-elliptical, with three colour patterns: i) light or dark green, with or without longitudinal white lines or stripes towards the apex; ii) minutely spotted white and green; iii) white, cream or flesh white. + The seeds The seeds are ovate-elliptical, flattened, 15 to 25 x 7 to 12 mm, and a dark brown to black or creamy white colour.
Fig-leaf Gourd flower
Fig-leaf Gourd fruit
Fig leaf gourd flesh and seeds
2.2- Origin and distribution + Origin Cucurbita ficifolia is a cultigen originating from highland regions of Latin America (from Mexico to Chile) where it is still widely cultivated. + Distribution Archeological records show that it was the most widespread variety of Cucurbita in the Americas, cultivated from northern Chile and Argentina to Mexico. Now it is grown as far north as southern California. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europeans introduced it to the Mediterranean regions of Europe (specifically France and Portugal) as well as India. Since then, its cultivation has spread to many other parts of the world (Europe, Africa and Asia). From there it has spread to many other parts of the world and picked up more names. Fig-leaf gourd occurs in tropical Africa in the highlands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania and is occasionally grown in Angola. In Asia it is grown in India, Thailand, Japan, Korea and China and in the highlands of the Philippines.
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