An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

FINGERLEAF GOURD, fingerleaf coyote melon


GOURD FAMILY-Cucurbitaceae

FINGERLEAF GOURD-Cucurbita digitata Gray

DESCRIPTION-Coarse perennial trailing or climbing vine, from a long, deepseated, fleshy tuberlike taproot several inches in diameter, reproducing by seeds and by stems rooting at the joints. The tough stems are angled 3 to 10 feet (or to 40 feet in moist cotton fields) long, 1 to a few from the root, branching immediately and radiating from the root. The leaves are widely spaced on the stems, 3 inches to more than a foot apart. They are divided very nearly to the base into 5 lanceshaped narrow lobes, 1 1/2 to 10 inches long, 1/8 to more than an inch broad, the margins smooth, toothed, or sometimes with 1 or more pairs of lobes, on stalks 1 to 5 inches long. The upper surface is dark green with conspicuous broad bands of short stiff white hairs along the veins, the lower surface uniformly rough hairy, varying from very dense and the surface gray to very sparse and the surface green.

The large yellow flowers are of 2 kinds, male and female, although they have a similar appearance and occur in the same leaf axil. They are 2 to 4 inches long. The seedpod is a smooth globeshaped gourd, 2 to 3 or more inches in diameter, green with pale green longitudinal markings, and at maturity yellowish green with pale yellow stripes. The seeds embedded in the pulp are shaped like pumpkin seeds. about 3/8 inch long and tan colored.

DISTRIBUTION-Fingerleaf gourd is a native weed, usually growing on dry, gravelly, or sandy soil of roadsides, waste places, plains, and mesas, but sometimes spreading into adjacent cotton or other cultivated fields as in Avra Valley (Pima County). and becoming a pest on irrigated lands. Often a nuisance on ranches. Found throughout southern and central Arizona; 100 to about 5,000 feet or less; flowering June to October.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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