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Sonoran Desert Gourds and Cucumbers

Perennial and annual vines. Tendrils normally present. Fruit a gourd or cucumber; tubular flowers at end of fruit (inferior ovary). Several species, two shown.


Big Root

Marah gilensis

Finger-leaf Gourd

Cucurbita digitata

Pen & Ink © by Mike Plagens

Above ground portions apparent as vibrant green vines in early spring commonly in mesquite woodlands or near washes. Fruit spheracle with fleshy prickles. Large seeds favored by squirrels.    Detailed Description

Cucurbita digitata photo © by Mike Plagens

Grows after summer rains generally in sandy soils near washes or streams. Distinctive leaves. Striped spherical gourd. Yellow-brown flowers.   Detailed Description

Desert Starvine

Brandegea bigelovii

Buffalo Gourd

Cucurbita foetidissima

Brandegea bigelovii photo © by Mike Plagens

Perennial vine with smaller leaves than bigroot and smaller, less prickly fruit. Detailed Description

Cucurbita foetidissima photo © by Mike Plagens

Robust vine with large triangular leaves runs along ground. Leaves and fruit with strong odor. Detailed Description

Coyote Melon

Cucurbita palmata

Cucurbita palmata photo © by Mike Plagens

Vine with large, five-lobed leaves grows along ground and up into small shrubs. Whitish veins against darker green in leaves. Detailed Description

Sonoran Desert Places


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