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The Cucurbitaceae are a family of dicotyledonous plants native mostly to tropical and subtropical regions. They are generally herbaceous plants, annual or perennial, with a creeping or climbing habit, with stems provided with tendrils, and more rarely shrubs. Many species are cultivated for their edible fruits and sometimes for their seeds, belonging to various genera:

  • Cucurbita , botanically integrating several species of squash including: zucchini and pumpkin , ( Cucurbita pepo ), pumpkin ( C. maxima ), butternut squash ( C. moschata ) and Siamese squash ( C. ficifolia );
  • Citrullus , with watermelon ( Citrullus lanatus ), also called watermelon, native to West Africa;
  • Cucumis , including cucumber ( Cucumis sativus ), and melon ( Cucumis melo );
  • Lagenaria , in which we find the calabash or gourd ( Lagenaria siceraria ) sometimes eaten fresh as a vegetable or more often used in a dry state to make various objects;
  • Luffa , the fruits of several species ( Luffa acutangula , Luffa aegyptiaca ) of which are cultivated and picked before maturity for consumption as a vegetable in Asia and Africa. The fruits of L. aegyptica or other species can also be picked when ripe and used as a vegetable sponge;
  • Sechium , with chayote or chayote (christophine, chouchou, etc.) ( Sechium edule ), cultivated as a vegetable plant for its edible fruit when ripe, but also for its stem, called "brède chouchou" in Mauritius and the Meeting, and occasionally for its starchy root.
Last change : 07/25/22