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Finger-leaved Gourd Back to Plant Page
Cucurbita digitata

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About Finger-leaved Gourd (Cucurbita digitata) Cucurbita digitata is a species of flowering plant in the squash family known by the common names fingerleaf gourd and bitter squash. It is similar to Cucurbita californica, Cucurbita cordata, Cucurbita cylindrata, and Cucurbita palmata and all these species hybridize readily. These species form the only restricted xerophyte species group in the genus Cucurbita. Each member of this species group is native to the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico where they are relatively uncommon. Each group member is found in hot, arid regions with low rainfall. They prefer soil that is loose, gravelly, and well-drained. C. digitata is native to northern Baja California at higher elevations, northern Sonora, Mexico, southern Arizona, and southwestern New Mexico. The juvenile leaves of C. cylindrata, C. cordata, C. digitata, and C. palmata show a high degree of similarity, but their mature leaves are visibly different, as are their root structures. C. palmata and C. digitata are sympatric, with C. palmata separating the ranges of C. digitata at the juncture of Baja California, California, and Arizona. C. digitata fruits are clear green mottle that turns yellow at maturity, striped, and round. It was first identified by Asa Gray in 1853. Cucurbita digitata is a hairy vining plant with sharply palmate leaves having five fingerlike lobes. It is quite similar in appearance to its close relative, the coyote gourd Cucurbita palmata, but the lobes of its leaves are usually more slender. It has curling yellow flowers up to 5 centimeters wide. The fruit is a dark green squash, rounded or nearly rounded, with mottling and distinct white stripes. The bitter fruit is very distasteful and generally not edible, although a few animals may hesitantly eat the flesh while trying to get at the seeds. Each white seed is about a centimeter long and at 35% protein and 50% fat is a nutritious food.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Vine, Perennial herb

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Elevation ?
228' - 3343'

Annual Precip. ?
3.6" - 21.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.64" - 1.64"

Coldest Month ?
39.6° F - 59.2° F

Hottest Month ?
72.6° F - 88.3° F

Humidity ?
2.37 vpd - 40.30 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
Fingerleaf Gourd, Bitter Squash

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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