Cucumis metuliferus Naudin

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Cucumis metuliferus

Picture: Helen Pickering
South of Livingstone: gorge swing down the path past the landing platform to where the path flattens out, in thicket before the rocks

Cucumis metuliferus

Picture: Helen Pickering
South of Livingstone: gorge swing down the path past the landing platform to where the path flattens out, in thicket before the rocks

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Synonyms: Cucumis metulifer E. Mey. ex Naudin
Common names:
Status: Native
Annual prostrate or climbing herb. Stems up to 5 m long, covered in bristly hairs. Leaves broadly ovate or subpentagonal in outline, more or less shallowly (3-)5-lobed, more or less densely bristly hairy, particularly on the veins below; margin with small sinuate teeth; petiole 2-11.5 cm long, covered in bristly hairs. Flowers unisexual, both sexes on the same plant, solitary or in 2-10-flowered clusters, yellow or pale orange, up to 2.5 cm in diameter. Fruits oblong-cylindric, up to 13 cm long, covered with stout fleshy spines, grey-green to orange yellow, often mottled, turning bright orange-red when ripe, edible.
Type location:
Notes: A cultivated plant. The name of this species is often given as Cucumis metulifer. Pending clarification, we have retained the name used in Flora Zambesiaca.
Derivation of specific name: metuliferus: from the Latin: metula meaning a small pyramid and ferus meaning bearing, referring to spines on the fruit
Habitat: In semi-deciduous forest, woodland, wooded grassland and abandoned cultivation, often in riverine areas.
Altitude range: Up to 1100 m
Flowering time:Dec - Mar
Worldwide distribution: Widespread in tropical Africa
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,N,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): N,E,Lk,S,W
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Pages 201 - 202. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 18.

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 241. (Includes a picture).

Jeffrey, C. (1978). Cucurbitaceae Flora Zambesiaca 4 Pages 463 - 464. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 38.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 53.

Other sources of information about Cucumis metuliferus:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Cucumis metuliferus
Flora of Caprivi: Cucumis metuliferus
Flora of Malawi: Cucumis metuliferus
Flora of Mozambique: Cucumis metuliferus
Flora of Zimbabwe: Cucumis metuliferus
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Cucumis metuliferus

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Cucumis metuliferus
African Plant Database: Cucumis metuliferus
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Cucumis metuliferus
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Cucumis metuliferus
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Cucumis metuliferus
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Cucumis metuliferus
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Cucumis metuliferus
JSTOR Plant Science: Cucumis metuliferus
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Cucumis metuliferus
Plants of the World Online: Cucumis metuliferus
Tropicos: Cucumis metuliferus
Wikipedia: Cucumis metuliferus

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Cucumis metuliferus., retrieved 23 May 2024

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