Family: Cucurbitaceae

gourd or pumpkin family

Species in the Cucurbitaceae are annual or perennial vines that either trail along the ground or climb upwards using tendrils. The leaves are arranged alternately and are either undivided and lobed, or divided into 3 or more leaflets. The lobes or leaflets radiate outward from a central point, as do the veins, and there is a tendril at the base of the leaf stalk. The flowers grow singly or in arrays of multiple flowers, are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical), and may be white, yellow, or greenish. The flowers are unisexual, and plants may have pollen-bearing or ovule-bearing flowers, or both. The sepals and petals are fused together at the base with 5 lobes each, and attach above the ovary (i.e., the ovary is inferior). Pollen-bearing flowers have 5 stamens, which are often fused together. In the ovule-bearing flowers, the styles are united and capped by a thick stigma. The fruit is usually a fleshy berry with a firm skin (a pepo), though in one wild species it is a capsule that opens by apical pores. In some species the fruit may be covered with small prickles.

This Family’s Genera in New England:

Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key