Annual herbaceous vine to several meters long Stem: slender, coarse and rough-hairy. Leaves: alternate, stalked, to 20 cm long, broad egg-shaped in outline with a pointed tip, angled to lobed, rough-hairy. Flowers: either male or female, found on the same plant (monoecious), borne solitary in leaf axils on a strongly angled stalk, with fused yellow petals ending in erect to spreading pointed lobes. Fruit: a berry with a hard rind (pepo), usually less than 13 cm long, in many shapes, sizes and colors, solid or striped. Tendrils: branched.
Similar species: Cucurbita foetidissima has unpleasantly scented leaves and recurved petal lobes. Citrullus lantanus and Cucumis melo have flowers that are flat and circular in outline. Additionally, C. lantanus has deeply pinnate-lobed leaves, and C. melo has unbranched tendrils. The typical variety of Cucurbita pepo has large, orange, furrowed fruit and larger leaves.
Flowering: May to September
Habitat and ecology: Native to tropical America, this species sometimes grows in moist soil.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: Ornamental gourds such as Apple, Bell, Bicolor, Egg, Orange and Pear gourds are all types of Cucurbita pepo var. ovifera.
Etymology: Cucurbita is the Latin name for the gourd. Pepo is the Latin word for a kind of melon and is derived from the Greek word pepon, meaning ripe. Ovifera means "bearing ovules."