Pumpkins, squashes and gourds - Cucurbitaceae
Among the most spectacular of all autumn fruits are the pumpkins, squashes and gourds. The plants that produce them are all members of the Cucurbitaceae - the cucurbit family - together with cucumbers, melons, marrows and loofahs. In total, the family consists of 100 genera and almost 700 species.
Cucurbits are usually climbing or trailing plants with leaves arranged alternately along the stem. Their leaves characteristically resemble hearts, kidneys or hand-prints, with three or more main veins. Most species carry separate male (pollen-bearing) and female (seed-bearing) flowers on the same plant. Many of the wild species produce small, bitter fruits. However, those that have been domesticated bear larger and tastier fruits.
About pumpkins, squashes and gourds
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