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a family of dicotyledonous plants including climbing and trailing herbs and, less commonly, subshrubs. The genus Dendrosicyos, which is found on the island of Socotra, consists of treelike forms. Cucurbitaceae are monoecious or dioecious. The flowers are usually unisexual and sympetalous; they are almost always regular and most often pentamerous. The fruit is usually a many-seeded berry or pepo. (The outer layer of the pericarp of a pepo is hard and coarse; the inner layer is fleshy and juicy.)

There are more than 100 genera, embracing about 900 species. They are distributed mainly in the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres. The USSR has eight or nine species, belonging to six genera (including Bryonia and Ecballium). There are more than 15 species in cultivation. Many have edible fruits— cucumbers, muskmelons, pumpkins, and watermelons. The Cucurbitaceae also include the calabash gourd, the dishcloth gourd, and the colocynth. Some genera are medicinal plants (for example, Bryonia), and some are ornamentals (for example, Thladiantha and Momordica).


Aleshina, L. A. “Palinologicheskie dannye k sistematike i filogenii semeistva Cucurbitaceae Juss.” In Morfologiia pyl’tsy Cucurbitaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Cornaceae. Leningrad, 1971.
Jeffrey, C. “On the Classification of the Cucurbitaceae.” Kew Bulletin, 1966, vol. 20, no. 3.