Cucumis althaeoides (Ser.) P.Sebastian & I.Telford APNI*
Synonyms: Cucumis maderaspatanus L. APNI*
Description: Trailing or climbing perennial herb, monoecious, most vegetative parts hispid, sometimes pilose; stems to 3 m long, to 1.6 mm diam, ribbed, annually sprouting from a perennating rootstock.Tendrils simple, to 15 cm long.
Leaves: subsessile or petiole to 38 mm long; lamina ovate or broadly lanceolate in outline, sometimes hastate, 24–75 mm long, 18–70 mm wide, cordate, unlobed or shallowly 3-lobed, rarely 5-lobed, obtuse or acute, mucronate.
Inflorescences unisexual. Male flowers in 3–15-flowered fascicles, sometimes in racemes with peduncles to 3 mm long; pedicels to 7 mm long. Female flowers 1 or 2, rarely 3 or 4 per axil; pedicels to 2 mm long; ovary ellipsoidal, ca. 3 mm long, pilose with antrorse hairs.
Fruit globose, 8–18 mm diam, pale green with darker longitudinal markings, at maturity sparsely pilose, red, with 9–25 seeds; fruiting pedicel to 6 mm long. Seeds ovate, 3.8–4.5 mm long, 2.3–2.8 mm wide, buff, the faces convex, verrucose, the margin thickened and raised.
Flowering: Flowers and fruits April–August.
Distribution and occurrence:
The species grows on coastal sands or riverine alluvium in herbfields and Casuarina or Eucalyptus woodland. On coralline beach sands of eastern Queensland, the species is recorded as growing under Casuarina equisetifolia and Pandanus tectorius.
NSW subdivisions: NT
Other Australian states: Qld
Cucumis althaeoides differs from other Australian species in its verrucose seeds with thickened margins.The species shows considerable variation in leaf morphology over its range, notably in petiole length and degree of lobing of the lamina.
Text by Louisa Murray
Taxon concept: Telford, I.R.H., Sebastian, P., Bruhl, J.J. and Renner, S.S. (2011) Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae) in Australia and Eastern Malesia, Including Newly Recognized Species and the Sister Species to C. melo. Systematic Botany, 36(2):376-389.
APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
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