Cucurbita foetidissima Kunth


Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)




Stinking Gourd





                              July Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Coarse rough, strong-smelling perennial with an immense fusiform root; stems mostly trailing, 2-4 m. long; leaves erect triangular-ovate, somewhat cordate at base, 1-2.5 dm. long on somewhat shorter petioles;  staminate flowers 10-12 cm. long, rough pubescent, the corolla ribbed, veiny, with broad lobes; pistillate flowers 9-10 cm. long, pubescent; calyx lobes narrow, 8-10 mm. long; fruit slightly oblong-globose, 6-9 cm. high, dull light green with 5-6 main cream-white stripes and a few intermediate ones as well; peduncles angled; seeds oblong-ovate, about 12 mm. long.


Habitat: Throughout S. Calif., Coastal Sage Scrub, Coastal Strand, V. Grassland, etc. cismontane Calif.; to about 4000 feet; Mojave desert to Texas, Nebr.  June-Aug.


Name:  Cucurbita, the Latin name for gourd.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 392).  Latin, foetidus, ill-smelling.  (Jaeger 102).  The foliage has a foul odor.  (Dale 103).


General:  Occasional throughout the study area.  Photographed on the easterly side of the Delhi Ditch and above Back Bay Dr. between the Newporter Inn and San Joaquin Hills Dr. (my comments).    The Indians made a tea from the plant for bloat and also for worms.  Used by some tribes as a cure for gonorrhea and syphilis.  The root was used for soap.  Green or dried fruit, crushed with a little soap was used for removing stains.  Dried seeds were made into a mush.  A poultice of crushed root and sugar was used for saddle sores.  (Bean and Saubel 58).     Roots were chewed and applied to skin ulcers, open sores; also used as soap and shampoo. (Coon 130).     The gourds were used as ladles by the California Indians.  (Heizer & Elsasser 244).    Spanish ladies used the gourds as darning balls.  (Dale 104).     The root is a purgative more powerful than croton-oil.  When pounded to a pulp, it is used as a soap by the Spanish-Californians, who aver that it cleanses as nothing else can; but rinsing must be very thorough-for any particles remaining in the garments prove very irritating to the skin.  (Parsons 121).      Parson's book was published in 1909. (my comment).      About 25 species of the warmer parts of America; many grown for food, ornaments, etc.  (Munz, Flora, So. Calif. 392).


Text Ref:  Dale 103; Hickman, Ed. 536; Munz, Calif. Flora 1060; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 392.

Photo Ref:  Aug 1 84 # 18.

Identity: by R. De Ruff.

First Found:  June 1983.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 16

No plant specimen.

Last edit 5/6/05.


                             August Photo                                                                  June Photo