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Cucurbita texana Gray

Synonyms: Cucurbita pepo ssp. ovifera var. texana (Scheele) D.S. Decker (Econ. Bot. 42:12. 1988); Tristemon texanum Scheele

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Distribution: A Texas endemic (according to Texas A&M Bioinformatics Working Group web page). Texas Distribution: Aransas, Bell, Bexar, Brazos, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Comal, Denton, Dewitt, Fayette, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Hamilton, Jackson, Kinney, Kleberg, Lee, Llano, Madison, Menard, Milam, Navarro, Refugio, Robertson, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Sutton, Travis, Val Verde, and Washington counties. Correll and Johnston (1970), state that this species is found along several rivers, especially the Guadalupe, that drain the Edwards Plateau in central Texas. Tom Wendt (pers. comm 1998) states, "This description of range does not say that it is restricted to the Edwards Plateau in Texas, only that it is along rivers that originate there. Some of the above mentioned counties are E or SE of the Plateau, but in most the species occurs there along rivers coming from there; river-wise, our specimens are from along the Devil's (Sutton Co.), Guadalupe (Comal, DeWitt) and Colorado (Travis). On the other hand, the Brazos Co. specimen is on the Navasota River, which doesn't rise or flow through the Edwards Plateau. The Calhoun Co. one is from Matagorda Island, a barrier island where the Guadalupe hits the Gulf."

Plants Seen or Cited: UNM: none. Apparently one collection was made in Eddy Co., New Mexico. I don't know if this specimen identification has been verified or where this specimen is vouchered. TEX-LL: Sutton, Comal, Dewitt, Travis, Brazos, Calhoun Counties. Two specimens from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, determined as C. texana by Denis Kearns, who was a grad student working on Cucurbitaceae (but not Cucurbita specifically). These specimens are from the region of Iturbide, N.L. There is no indication that they came from along a river, but habitat data is quite brief (Tom Wendt pers. comm 1998).

Habitat: In debris and piles of driftwood, often climbing into trees, along several rivers, especially the Guadalupe, that drain the Edwards Plateau in central Texas.

Discussion: Hugh Wilson has written extensively on Cucurbita. "The 'Texas Gourd' has not been treated as a distinct species by specialists since the formal name change in 1988. Consideration of both classification and phylogeny reveals that the biological entity defined by the name 'C. texana' constitutes only a portion of a broader system of free-living C. pepo populations that inhabit eastern North America. Plants carrying this name are not biologically distinct or reproductively isolated from other elements of C. pepo, both domesticated and free-living. ... The U.S. populations show levels of genetic differentiation that allow classification as C. pepo ssp. ovifera var. texana (Texas) and C. pepo ssp. ovifera var. ozarkana (Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana). Populations from other areas of the U.S. distribution are difficult to classify, possibly because of hybridization or other connections to domesticated elements of the species" (Wilson 1998). This taxon is no longer considered rare in Texas. Remove from the New Mexico rare list.

Important Information Sources:

Bailey, L.H. 1943. Species of Cucurbita. Gertes Herbarum 6(5).

Correll, D.S. and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas.

Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Second edition.

New Mexico Natural Heritage Program. 1998. Plants in Heritage Database.

The Gray Index. 1998. Web database.

Wendt, Tom. 1998. Curator of the TEX-LL Herbarium, Austin, TX. (Personal communication)

Wilson, Hugh. 1998. Texas Endemics: Distribution of Cucurbita texana. In: website publication at http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/endemics/endemic1.htm.

Information Compiled By: Jane Mygatt, 1998

Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
Design: J. Mygatt; Copyright © 1999-2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council