Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - a tropical cucurbit

On miserably cold bleak days, a reminder of the tropics is always welcome. Although squash flowers can be pretty big, members of the gourd family, generally called cucurbits, are not thought of as having very many attractive flowers. Here's Gurania makoyana from Costa Rica that makes a pretty dramatic display to attract pollinators, in this case butterflies for certain. The sepals are the orange part of the display; the yellow corolla doesn't open very wide making sort of a tube and doesn't contribute much to the display. Since the vine is often scrambling through the rainforest understory along dense and dim edges, this inflorescence really stands out. Greenish-white, finger-sized cucumbery fruit follow.

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