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Ecballium A.Rich.

Dict.Class.Hist.Nat. p19 (1824)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Family Cucurbitaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or herbaceous climbers (trailing). Plants succulent (fleshy). Perennial. Leaves cauline (ass.). Plants with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Stem internodes solid (ass.). Thickened rootstock. Self supporting, or climbing (trailing); root climbers. Mesophytic to xerophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple. Leaf blades dissected, or entire; ovate to triangular; when simple/dissected, palmately lobed; palmately veined; cross-venulate; cordate. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire (undulate). Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present (lamina scabrid, white tomentose beneath). Extra-floral nectaries absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers functionally male, or functionally female. Unisexual flowers present. Plants monoecious. Female flowers solitary; without staminodes. Male flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; without pistillodes (ass.). Entomophilous.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary (female flowers), or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (males); in racemes (male flowers). Inflorescences axillary; female flowers sometimes co-axillary with male flowers. Flowers pedicellate; bracteate; ebracteolate (ass.); small to large; regular; cyclic. Free hypanthium present; broadly campanulate (in male flowers). Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; blunt-lobed; imbricate, or open in bud; regular. Calyx lobes ovate. Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamopetalous (and deeply lobed); more or less valvate; regular; yellow. Corolla lobes ovate. Fertile stamens present, or absent. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 3. Androecial members branched and unbranched, or unbranched; adnate (to the hypanthium); all equal (ass.); free of one another (ass.); 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 3; all more or less similar in shape; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth; oppositisepalous (on hypanthium or on calyx tube below petals). Anthers cohering, or connivent, or separate from one another; adnate; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; extrorse; bilocular; bisporangiate, or bisporangiate and tetrasporangiate, or tetrasporangiate; appendaged (via the prolonged connective), or unappendaged. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent. Gynoecium 1 carpelled, or 2–5 carpelled. The pistil 1–3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; of one carpel, or synovarious, or synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; inferior. Ovary unilocular, or plurilocular; 1–3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; partially joined; apical. Stigmas 3; commissural; 2 - lobed. Placentation parietal; when the ovary plurilocular, axile. Ovules in the single cavity 20–50; 20–50 per locule; pendulous, or horizontal, or ascending; non-arillate; anatropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 30–45 mm long; 1.5–2 cm in diameter; fleshy; not spinose (bristly); dehiscent (by rupture and squirting of seeds from the position of pedicel attachment); elastically dehiscent; 20–100 seeded (numerous). Seeds non-endospermic; medium sized to large; winged, or wingless. Cotyledons 2 (large, flat). Embryo straight.

Etymology. From the Greek ekballo (to throw out); refers to the active seed discharge.