Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Trichosanthes cucumerina L. var. cucumerina

Slender Vine
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Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaf and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Leaf and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Habit, leaves, flowers and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Haines, H.H. (1922) The Botany of Bihar & Orissa : 388.

Common name

Annual Gourd


A slender vine to 2 m, stem diameter of 1-2 mm, ribbed. Tendrils 2 or 3-branched, tips equipped with haustoria-like structures.


Crushed leaves emit an unpleasant odour resembling that of Diplocyclos palmatus. Leaf simple, blades often wider than long, variable from unlobed to shallowly or deeply three or more lobes. Leaf blades about 2.3-19 x 2.5-15 cm, petioles about 0.8-5.7 cm long, usually twisted close to the base. Upper and lower leaf blade surfaces, twigs and petioles sparsely clothed in short glandular hairs tipped with fluid when fresh. Glands 1-8 per side, usually visible on the underside of the leaf blade close to the basal margin. Lateral veins about four to six on each side of the midrib.


Male and female flowers on same plant. Male flowers: in racemes of 4-21 flowers, or solitary; male inflorescence bracts to 3 mm long; flowers about 8-20 mm diam., excluding the fimbriations or hairs; calyx tube (hypanthium) to 35 mm long, lobes recurved, about 0.5-2.5 mm long; petals about 9-10 mm long (not including fringed tips) or 15 mm long including the fringed tips, divided into long narrow lobes particularly at the apex; stamens 3, two stamens with bilocular anthers and one stamen with a unilocular anther; anthers about 2 mm long, filaments about 0.5-1.5 mm long, free from one another; anther locules sinuous (shaped like a horizontal S); pollen white or translucent. Female flowers: solitary or paired; from same axils as male flowers; similar in general form to the male flowers, calyx tube (hypanthium) 12-50 mm long, sepal lobes 1-3 mm long; petals 5-10 mm long; staminodes small and inconspicuous; style about as long as the hypanthium.


Fruits elongated globular or globose, about 21-50 x 18-25 mm, apex pointed or beaked. Seeds about 3-12 per fruit. Seed +/- flat, about 6-11 x 4-7 mm, unilocular, margin sinuate. Embryo about 8 mm long, radicle about 1 mm long, much shorter and narrower than the cotyledons.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 550 m. Grows in vine thicket, monsoon forest and the drier more seasonal rain forests. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

Flowers open during the day.

Trichosanthes cucumerina L., Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 1008. Type: Pada valam, 39, t. 15, in Rheede, Hort. Ind. Malab. 8 (1688). Fide Telford (1982). Trichosanthes ambrozii Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 1185(1928), Type: Nordwest-Australien: zwischen Ashburton und De Gray River, E. Clement s.n.; syn: B, K, PR.
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