Clear Mountain Garden Treasures
 

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresMelons

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Cucurbits are a large family of plants, comprising over 100 genera. Amongst the family are important food crop plants such as pumpkin, melons, cucumbers and squash.

 Bottle Gourd


Bottle Gourd
Name Lagenaria siceraria
Common Names Bottle gourd, Hard shelled gourd, Hu lu, Calabash

This is perhaps one of the oldest plants in cultivation, believed to be first grown by humans over 30000 years ago. Long before the invention of pottery, this gourd was used as a water vessel, and hence the common name.



Female flower

Male flower

Immature fruit

Young fruit

Dried gourd

Wide neck gourd

 Butternut squash

Name Cucurbita moschata
Common Name Butternut squash
Etymology
Cucurbita From Latin cucurbita meaning gourd or pumpkin.
moschata From Latin moschus meaning musk (musk scented).

This squash is far superior to pumpkins. The smaller sized vines have a bigger yield per square metre, and the fruits keep well. The medium sized fruits are just the right size for a family meal, unlike pumpkin, where the norm is to use a portion and the rest (which does not keep well) often goes to waste. The flesh is often sweeter and firm when cooked.


Mature fruit

 Cucumber (gherkin)

Name Cucumis sativus
Common Names Cucumber, Gherkin
Etymology
Cucumis From Greek kykyon meaning cucumber.
sativus From Latin sativum meaning sown or cultivated.

A gherkin is a pickled cucumber.


Female flower

Cucurmis sativus

 Kamo Kamo

Name Cucurbita pepo
Common Names Pumpkin, Squash
Etymology
Cucurbita From Latin cucurbita meaning gourd or pumpkin.
pepo From Latin pepo meaning pumpkin or large melon.

The Maori name for this heirloom vegetable related to pumpkin is Kamo Kamo or Kumi Kumi. The fruits are normally harvested when very young, or let to mature to over winter. It is reputed to be very nice in a hangi.


Fruit

 Luffa


Plant
Name Luffa cylindrica
Etymology
Luffa From Arabic lufah meaning spongue gourd.
cylindrica From Greek cylindro meaning cylinder, referring to the shape of its fruits.

The fruit of this handy cucurbit is edible when young, but becomes tough and fibrous when old, eventually, drying to a mass of fibres. This can be used as a bath spongue.



Female flower

Female flower

Male flower

Immature fruit

Young fruit

The fruit is edible at this stage.

Mature fruit

Just before the fruit turns brown and dries.

Dried fruit

 Melons

Name Cucumis melo
Common Names Cantaloupe, Honeydew melon, Prince melon, Rockmelon
Etymology
Cucumis From Greek kykyon meaning cucumber.
melo From Latin melo meaning melon.



Honeydew Melon

Price melon (Derishi)

Green fleshed derishi mellon.

Rockmelon (Cantaloupe)

 Pumpkin / Squash

Name Cucurbita maxima
Common Names Pumpkin, Squash
Etymology
Cucurbita From Latin cucurbita meaning gourd or pumpkin.
maxima From Latin maximis meaning greatest or largest.



Female flower

Notice the ovary (small pumpkin) below the flower.

Male flower

Immature fruit

Mature pumpkin

 Mini Pumpkin / Squash

Name Cucurbita pepo
Common Names Pumpkin, Squash
Etymology
Cucurbita From Latin cucurbita meaning gourd or pumpkin.
pepo From Latin pepo meaning pumpkin or large melon.



Miscellaneous mini squash

Cucurbita pepo

Mini squash

 Spaghetti melon, Shark's fin melon

Name Cucurbita pepo
Common Names Spaghetti melon, Spaghetti squash, Shark's fin melon
Etymology
Cucurbita From Latin cucurbita meaning gourd or pumpkin.
pepo From Latin pepo meaning pumpkin or large melon.

Spaghetti melon (Cucurbita pepo) belongs in the cucurbit family (along with cucumber, pumpkin, etc), and grows in a similar fashion. The 'spaghetti' is actually the flesh of the melon. Usually grown as a winter melon. This is the speckled skin variety that produces a lot of white 'spaghetti' (see picture).

The two plants in my garden produce enough melons to last one year! Hardier than pumpkin. The 'spaghetti' is low in calories, high in fibre, contains no fat and is an excellent source folic acid. Also has some potassium, and a little iron, vitamin A and vitamin C.



Female flower

Male flower

Unusual flower

This unusual spaghetti melon flower has both pollen as well as developing seeds, but no fruit!

Detail of the unusual flower

Male flower

This flower was produced in June (winter). Because of the cold weather, the petals do not open fully, but pollen is still shed.

Immature fruit

Young fruit

Spaghetti flesh

The flesh of the spaghetti melon resemble strings of spaghetti, and hence the name.

Cooked spaghetti flesh

 Wax melon

Name Benincasa hispida
Common Names Chinese winter melon, Dung gua, Wax gourd
Etymology
Benincasa Named after Count Giuseppe Benincasa, 16th century Italian botanist who founded the Botanic Garden at Pisa.
hispida From Latin hispidus meaning hairy, referring to the fine hairs on the leaves and stems..

This melon is the sole species in the Benincasa genus. When young, it is covered in hairs but these are replaced with a layer of wax when the fruit is mature. Mature fruit will keep over the winter. The fruit is mainly used in soups, tea and made into a preserve.



Female flower

Male flower

 Choko


Fruits

Some choko fruits are thorny, while others are smooth.
Name Sechium edule
Common Names Chaco, Chayote, Choco, Choko, Vegetable Pear
Etymology
Sechium From East Indian sechium meaning this plant.
edule From Latin edulis meaning edible.

Choko comes from the Americas. Unlike other melons, it only produces one seed per fruit. The flesh can be used in soups, stir fries and salads. The stem, leaves and tuberous roots are also edible.



Fruits

The choko fruit only has one seed.

Spontaneous germination

The solitary seed will germinate without water.

Spontaneous germination

A week after germination, the vine has elongated, all without water.

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