Squash

Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima

Order: Violales

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Names:

Other Names:

Summary:

A rapidly growing, summer vine with large leaves, yellow flowers and medium sized fruit.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Stipules -
Petiole - Long, thick, vertical.
Blade - Large.

Stems:

Long, weak, low lying.

Flower head:

Flowers:

Yellow orange. Separate male and female flowers on the one plant.
Ovary -
Sepals -
Petals -
Stamens -
Anthers -

Fruit:

Moderate size, shape varies depending on the variety, thick skinned with flesh surrounding a somewhat cavernous centre containing many seeds.

Seeds:

Flattened, tear shaped, white to yellow.

Roots:

Deep extensive root system.

Key Characters:

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual vine. Seeds are usually planted in spring and Squash are ready to harvest as the immature fruit in 2-3 months.

Physiology:

Optimum temperature from 18-300C.
Susceptible to frost and prolonged exposure to temperatures below 100C.

Reproduction:

Require bees or insects for pollination.

Flowering times:

Summer.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seed requires temperatures above 160C to germinate with an optimum of 24-350C.
Seedlings very prone to damping off fungus in cool conditions.

Vegetative Propagules:

None.

Hybrids:

Many commercial varieties.

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread mainly by intentional planting of seed and where household refuse is dumped.

Origin and History:

South America.
Introduced as a vegetable crop.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.
Naturalised in QLD, NSW.

Red = Cucurbita pepo. Blue = Cucurbita maxima
Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.
Warm season crop.

Soil:

Prefer deep, friable soils with a pH of 5-6.5.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Common vegetable.
Pollen source for bees.

Detrimental:

Weed of urban bushland and disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Insect pests include Pumpkin Beetle, Spider Mite, Cucumber Fly and Helicoverpa.
Diseases include Powdery Mildew, Downy Mildew, Fusarium Root Rot, Fusarium Wilt, Gummy Stem Blight and Cucumber Mosaic Virus.

Related plants:

Marrow (Cucurbita pepo)
Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima)
Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata)

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #380.

Reid, R.L. (1990) The Manual of Australian Agriculture. (Butterworths, Sydney). P144-145.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.