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Family Cucurbitaceae

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.

External links:
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
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Leaves more or less triangular in outline and deeply pinnately 5–9-lobed, lobes incurved, roundedCitrullus
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 rounded2
2Tendrils unbranched or absent3
Tendrils branched
                       Back to 1
3Leaves 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)
                       Back to 2
4Fruit warted or ridged, or with rigid spines less than 4 mm long, red; male flowering stalk bearing a sessile bractMomordica
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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5Tendrils absentEcballium
Tendrils present
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6Fruit less than 15 mm diam.; leaves with lamina more or less triangular in outline or more or less circular and shallowly lobed7
Fruit more than 15 mm diam.; leaves with lamina more or less circular in outline and very shallowly or obscurely lobed
                       Back to 5
7Female flowers and fruit on stalks more than 1 cm long; fruit green to yellowish when ripe; petioles more than 10 mm long8
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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8Seeds with margin absent, with or withour a short wingNeoachmandra
Seeds with narrow but distinct margins, not winged
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9Leaves deeply lobed, lobes cut at least a third way to midrib, lobes mostly acute10
Leaves unlobed to shallowly lobed, lateral lobes cut less than a quarter way to midrib
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10Leaves pubescent to velvety on the undersurface, scabrous to pubescent aboveTrichosanthes
Leaves glabrescent, often scabrous, not pubescent
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11Leaves 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 spinesDiplocyclos
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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12Leaves less than 8 cm wide; fruit c. 1 cm diam., spinySicyos
Leaves more than 10 cm wide; fruit more than 5 cm diam., mostly smooth, rarely spiny
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13Leaves with 2 pairs of raised glands at the base of the lamina near the petioleLagenaria
Leaves without glands near base of lamina
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14Fruit 1-seeded, 6–10 cm diam.; male inflorescence racemoseSechium
Fruit many-seeded, more than 10 cm diam.; male flowers solitary
                       Back to 13

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