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Genus of the Week

Week of October 26 - November 1

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes , a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:

Cucurbita - Pumpkins, Squashes & Gourds

Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Dilleniidae
Order: Violales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Cucurbiteae
Number of Species: At least 6, with many subspecies and cultivars
Root: Cucurbita means "gourd" in Latin.

The genus Cucurbita consists of plants native to the New World. One characteristic of this genus is that individual plants can be either monoecious or diecious, bearing unisexual flowers that are specifically pollinated by bees in the genera Peponapis and Xenoglossa. Plants in this genus also produce the coiling tendrils that are typical of climbing plants. Anyone who has ever eaten pumpkin pie, carved a Jack-O'-Lantern or purchased odd-shaped gourds can appreciate the economic and ornamental value of the cucurbits. The seeds produced inside the fleshy fruits are said to have medicinal properties, and infusions made from them have been taken to cure urinary ailments.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Cucurbita species:


  1. Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.

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