Luffa – the common name is also luffa, sometimes spelled loofah (when fully ripened, two species of this fibrous fruit are the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge)
The plants in this family are grown around the tropics and in temperate areas, where those with edible fruits were among the earliest cultivated plants in both the Old and New Worlds. The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food. The name Cucurbitaceae comes to international scientific vocabulary from New Latin, from Cucurbita, the type genus, + -aceae, a standardized suffix for plant family names in modern taxonomy. The genus name comes from the Classical Latin word cucurbita, "gourd".
Most of the plants in this family are annualvines, but some are woody lianas, thorny shrubs, or trees (Dendrosicyos). Many species have large, yellow or white flowers. The stems are hairy and pentangular. Tendrils are present at 90° to the leaf petioles at nodes. Leaves are exstipulate alternate simple palmately lobed or palmately compound. The flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers on different plants (dioecious) or on the same plant (monoecious). The female flowers have inferior ovaries. The fruit is often a kind of modified berry called a pepo.
One of the oldest fossil cucurbits so far is †Cucurbitaciphyllum lobatum from the Paleocene epoch, found at Shirley Canal, Montana. It was described for the first time in 1924 by the paleobotanist Frank Hall Knowlton. The fossil leaf is palmate, trilobed with rounded lobal sinuses and an entire or serrate margin. It has a leaf pattern similar to the members of the genera Kedrostis, Melothria and Zehneria.
Pumpkins and squashes displayed in a show competition
A selection of cucurbits of the South Korean Genebank in Suwon
^Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
^Revisions to Roland Brown's North American Paleocene Flora by Steven R. Manchester at Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA. Published in Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae, Series B – Historia Naturalis, vol. 70, 2014, no. 3-4, pp. 153–210.
^Renner SS, Schaefer H (2016). "Phylogeny and evolution of the Cucurbitaceae". In Grumet R, Katzir N, Garcia-Mas J (eds.). Genetics and Genomics of Cucurbitaceae. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models. 20. New York, NY: Springer International Publishing. pp. 1–11. doi:10.1007/7397_2016_14. ISBN978-3-319-49330-5.
Bates D, Robinson R, Jeffrey C, eds. (1990). Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Cornell University Press. ISBN978-0-8014-1670-5.
Jeffrey C. (2005). "A new system of Cucurbitaceae". Bot. Zhurn. 90: 332–335.