Description: Herbaceous or softly woody plants, mostly climbing or trailing, commonly with tendrils beside each node, tendrils often branched. Plants often scabrous, occasionally pubescent or glabrous.
Leaves alternate, mostly palmately veined and often also palmately lobed, [or seldom palmately compound].
Inflorescences axillary, racemose or flowers clustered or solitary. Flowers mostly actinomorphic, unisexual and plants monoecious or dioecious. Hypanthium shortly or strongly extended above the ovary. Sepals and petals mostly 5, distinct or fused, petals mostly yellow or white, the corolla sometimes dissimilar in male and female flowers. Stamens basically 5, mostly attached to the hypanthium, often showing reduction or fusion, often apparently 3, two double with 2 loculi and one single with 1 loculus; anthers straight or variously bent. Staminodes usually absent. Ovary 3-carpellate, 1–3-locular, generally inferior; style mostly solitary and lobed.
Fruit usually a berry or 'pepo' (inferior berry with a leathery rind), rarely a fleshy capsule; seeds 1–many, often compressed.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 90 genera, 700 species, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 20 genera, 44 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Cucurbitaceae, Order: Cucurbitales)
Various species are cultivated for their edible fruit, especially cultivars of Cucurbita (pumpkin and squash), Citrullus (watermelon and rockmelon) and Cucumis (cucumber). Luffa species, the loofa or vegetable sponge, is also cultivated.
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves more or less triangular in outline and deeply pinnately 5–9-lobed, lobes incurved, rounded||Citrullus|
|Leaves more or less entire or circular to ovate in outline and shallowly or deeply palmately 3–7-lobed, lobes more or less flat, mostly acute, sometimes rounded||2|
|2||Tendrils unbranched or absent||3|
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|3||Leaves deeply 3–7-lobed (lobes cut at least three-quarters way into lamina)||4|
|Leaves more or less entire, toothed or shallowly lobed (lobes cut less than three-quarters way towards midrib)|
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|4||Fruit warted or ridged, or with rigid spines less than 4 mm long, red; male flowering stalk bearing a sessile bract||Momordica|
|Fruit smooth or covered with coarse bristles or spines usually at least 4 mm long, yellow-green at maturity; flowering stalk lacking bracts|
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|6||Fruit less than 15 mm diam.; leaves with lamina more or less triangular in outline or more or less circular and shallowly lobed||7|
|Fruit more than 15 mm diam.; leaves with lamina more or less circular in outline and very shallowly or obscurely lobed|
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|7||Female flowers and fruit on stalks more than 1 cm long; fruit green to yellowish when ripe; petioles more than 10 mm long||8|
|Female flowers and fruit more or less sessile or on stalks less than 1 cm long; fruit red at maturity; petioles often more or less absent or mostly less than 10 mm long|
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|8||Seeds with margin absent, with or withour a short wing||Neoachmandra|
|Seeds with narrow but distinct margins, not winged|
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|9||Leaves deeply lobed, lobes cut at least a third way to midrib, lobes mostly acute||10|
|Leaves unlobed to shallowly lobed, lateral lobes cut less than a quarter way to midrib|
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|10||Leaves pubescent to velvety on the undersurface, scabrous to pubescent above||Trichosanthes|
|Leaves glabrescent, often scabrous, not pubescent|
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|11||Leaves deeply 3–5-lobed, lateral lobes cut to at least three-quarters way to midrib; fruit many-seeded, green or red, usually with white stripes, without spines||Diplocyclos|
|Leaves usually shallowly 3-lobed, sometimes 5-lobed, lateral lobes cut to about half way to midrib; fruit 1-seeded, green, covered with spines|
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|12||Leaves less than 8 cm wide; fruit c. 1 cm diam., spiny||Sicyos|
|Leaves more than 10 cm wide; fruit more than 5 cm diam., mostly smooth, rarely spiny|
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|13||Leaves with 2 pairs of raised glands at the base of the lamina near the petiole||Lagenaria|
|Leaves without glands near base of lamina|
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|14||Fruit 1-seeded, 6–10 cm diam.; male inflorescence racemose||Sechium|
|Fruit many-seeded, more than 10 cm diam.; male flowers solitary|
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