Cucurbitaceae: The Gourd Family
The Cucurbitaceae family has 825 species in 118-119 genera. This is the family that contains all the edible gourds, such as cucumbers, watermelon, musk melons, squash, and pumpkins. The fruits are often gigantic and very delicious.
Did you know that pumpkins were not around when the Celtic holiday of Halloween began? Its true, the stories of Stingy Jack which led to the Jack O'lantern were, but they didn't use pumpkins, which happen to be native to the New World. Instead they used turnips and other small gourds that they carved out and put coal inside. But, when the colonists discovered the much larger pumpkins, it quickly took over the tradition. Learn more about pumpkins with Untamed Science
The stems are 5-angled and have coiled tendrils. The leaves are usually alternate and 5 lobed. Flowers are unisexual. The male parts usually have 5 stamens, but it is quite variable in the family and not a great tool for differentiating them. The gynoecium is usually a 2-5 carpeled compound pistil that is inferior ... more technical information.
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