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Cucurbita ficifolia - Bouché.                
                 
Common Name Malabar Gourd, Figleaf gourd
Family Cucurbitaceae
Synonyms C. melanospermum.
Known Hazards The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[65].
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range E. Asia? Original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 
Cucurbita ficifolia is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : 9-11


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

Cucurbita ficifolia Malabar Gourd, Figleaf gourd


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Spedona
Cucurbita ficifolia Malabar Gourd, Figleaf gourd
http://flickr.com/photos/ocean_of_stars/
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil.

Fruit - cooked[22, 46, 61, 97]. Best used when young, at that stage it can be used like a cucumber. The mature fruits are sometimes boiled and eaten[183, 196]. A confection is made from the flesh by boiling it with crude sugar[183]. The mature fruit can be stored for 2 years or more and becomes sweeter with storage[200]. The fruit is up to 35cm in diameter[200]. Seed - raw[57, 86, 160]. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat[K]. The seed is delicious when roasted and eaten like peanuts[183, 196]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is rich in oleic acid[196].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Vermifuge.

The seeds are vermifuge[7, 88]. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used. This is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body[7]. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children[238].
Other Uses
Containers;  Oil.

The shell of the mature fruit is very hard and it can be used as a container[86].
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a very warm, sunny and sheltered position[1]. Tolerates poor, wet and badly drained soils according to another report[160]. Plants are not very frost-tolerant, they can be grown as an annual in temperate climates, and are sometimes cultivated for their edible fruit in warmer areas of the world[50, 86]. A very vigorous plant, it can produce shoots 25 metres long in 1 year from seed in Britain[86]. This is the hardiest member of the genus but its fruits are coarse and stringy when grown in Britain so it is usually grown as an ornamental plant only[86]. Plants are day-length sensitive, flowering only in late summer and autumn[196]. This species does not hybridize naturally with other members of the genus though crosses have been made under controlled conditions[86, 135]. In America it takes 3 months from seed to first harvest and 6 months to obtain mature fruit[160]. The average fruit size is 9 kilos and this contains 2 cups of seed[160].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks if you are trying them outdoors.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
Bouché.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[22]Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods.
Not very comprehensive, it seems more or less like a copy of earlier writings with little added.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[86]Organ. J. Gourds.
Deals with squashes and their relatives. Interesting and readable, it gives cultivation techniques and some details of plant uses.
[88]RHS. The Garden. Volume 112.
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS. In particular, there are articles on plants that are resistant to honey fungus, oriental vegetables, Cimicifuga spp, Passiflora species and Cucurbits.
[97]Towle. M. A. The Ethno-Botany of Pre-Columbian Peru.
A very interesting book covering quite a lot of information on plant uses in S. America although many of the plants are not suitable for temperate areas..
[135]? The Plantsman. Vol.8. 1986 - 1987.
Excerpts from the periodical giving cultivation details and other notes on some of the useful plants including some Cucurbitaceae.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[196]Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Michael Shilson Mon Jun 12 2006
Does anyone know where seeds can be bought?
Elizabeth H.
Larry De Puy Mon Dec 10 2007
If michael s. is still interested I have some seed. They may still be available at J. L Hudson Seedsman, Star Route 2, Box 337 La Honda, Ca. 94020. I grew one in Escondido ca. for 5 years and it may still be growing.I am now growing them in a greenhouse in Eureka Ca.now 12/9/07 and the fruits are a solid cream color (one fruit must be over 10 pounds)they don't have the typical watermelon appearance. They have also produced long (2 to 3 feet)aerial roots,one coiling into a nepenthes pitcher another growing 2 feet to reach a pot, growing through the pot to become aerial again and grow another 3 feet. Under the right conditions Cucurbita ficifolia becomes semi-epiphitic. It seems I learn something new about this amazing squash every year.
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