Plant type: Vine
Plant origin: N/A, California, Other Southwest
Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Creosote Bush Scrub, Desert, Joshua Tree Woodland, Oak Woodland
Decomposed Granite, Sand, Sandy Loam, Rocky, Riverbed Silt
Attracts Wildlife, Edible , Important to Native People, Vines/Espaliers
Cucurbita foetidissima is a tuberous xerophytic plant found in the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd, coyote gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin. Cucurbita foetidissima requires little water and grows best in semiarid and arid environments. This perennial is well adapted to marginal agricultural lands such as sandy loam soils which have to be well-drained.
It produces very long stems that trail along the ground for several yards, along which small, round gourds form. The fresh young gourd can be eaten like squash. The mature fruit is no longer edible, due to bitter compounds. Whole gourd seeds are usable for human consumption and for feed. Fresh leaves or the whole plants can be used as animal fodder. In many Native American cultures, the fruit and other parts of the plant were used for soap. Groups such as the Luiseno and the Cahuilla of southern California, ground the seeds, mixing the resulting flour with water into a mush or paste. However, we do not recommend consuming any parts of this plant as a very detailed knowledge that few now possess in order to consume this plant safely. We grow this plant primarily for habitat restoration purposes.
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