Cucurbitaceae: Gourd Family
Calabazilla – Cucurbita foetidissima
Sandy, gravelly places, Diablo Range
This is a native gourd, with stem branches attaching to other plants by tendrils. Leaves are triangular-ovate, 15–30 cm long, coarse and ill-smelling. Flowers are yellow, 9–12 cm long. The fruit is spherical, 7–8 cm across, green, mottled with white stripes.
Wild Cucumber / California Man-root – Marah fabacea
Small / Medium
Shrubby open areas, streamsides
This is a common and aggressive vine, which produces clusters of small (usually 5-petaled) cream to white flowers. The plant is monoecious. The clusters of small flowers are male (upper left in photo #2). The female flower (when present) is solitary, a little below the cluster of male flowers (lower left in photo #3). The female flower is a little larger, and is recognizable by the prickly ovary, which quickly develops into the plant’s large, prickly fruit (photo #3). Sometimes known as Manroot, supposedly because the root is as big as a man’s torso. The last picture shows a modest sized-root, which was 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. Large storage roots explain the rapid, vining growth in early spring. Photos #1 and 2 by CJH.