Get complete information on Family Cucurbitaceae

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Habit:

Climber or prostrate, annual herb.

Stem:

Herbaceous, branched, pentangular, fistular, tendrils in axil of leaf or opposite to leaves. The morphological nature of tendrils is of dispute.

Leaf:

Exstipulate, petiolate, alternate, simple, palmate, five lobed.

Inflorescence:

Axillary solitary or cymose or racemose, peduncle of male flower profusely branched while female solitary.

Flower:

Ebracteate, pedicellate, unisexual, incomplete, actinomorphic, pentamerous.

Male Flower :

Calyx:

Sepals 5, gamosepalous, quincuncial aestivation.

Corolla:

Petals 5, gamopetalous, campanulate or rotate, imbricate or valvate aestivation.

Androecium:

Stamens 5, polyandrous as in Fevillea or (2) + (2) + 1 as in Momordica, anthers twisted, alternate to petals, sometimes epipetalous, dehiscence longitudinal.

Gynoecium Absent.

Female Flower:

Calyx & Corolla similar to male flower.

Androecium: Absent but sometimes 2, 3, 5 staminodes present.

Gynoecium: Tricarpellary, syncarpous, unilocular, ovary inferior, numerous ovules, parietal placentation but looks as axile placentation, style is simple, stigma 3.

Economic Importance

(A) Plants used in food:

Fruits of the plants of this family are mainly used as vegetables, e.g. Cucurbita maxima (Great Pumpkin = Wilati Kado.), C. moschata (Halwa Kado. = Kanshiphal, Mitha Kadoo = Sitaphal) Legenaria siceraria (Lauki), Luffa cylindrica (Ghia tori), Lufa acutangula (Kali tori), Momordica charantia (Karela), Trichosanthes anguina (Chachinda), Cucumis sativus (Kheera), Cucumis milo (Kharbooja), Cucumis utilissimus (Kakri), Citrullus vulgaris (water-melon-Tarbooj) etc.

(B) Plants used in medicines:

The roots, fruit and leaf extract of Coccinia indica is used in diabetes. Extract of Ecballium is used in malaria and hydrophobia.

7. Family Solanaceae

Habit:

Mostly herbs, shrubs & trees.

Root:

Branched tap root system.

Stem:

Aerial, erect, climbing (Solatium jasminoides) herbaceous or woody, cylindrical branched, solid or hollow, hairy, or glabrous, underground stem in Solatium tuberosum (potato).

Leaves:

Cauline, ramal, exstipulate, petiolate, or sessile, alternate, sometimes opposite, simple, entire pinnatisect in Lycopersicum (tomato) unicostate reticulate venation.

Inflorescence:

Solitary axillary, umbellate cyme or helicoid cyme in Solanum nigrum.

Flower:

Bracteate or ebracteate, pedicellate, complete, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, pentamerous, hypogynous.

Calyx:

Sepals 5, gamosepalous, tubular or campanulate, valvate or imbricate, persistent, green or coloured, hairy.

Corolla:

Petals 5, gamosepalous, tubular or infundibuliform, valvate or imbricate aestivation, scale or hair-like outgrowth may arise from the throat of the corolla tube, coloured.

Androecium:

Stamens 5, epipetalous, polyandrous, alternate to petals, filaments inserted deep in the corolla tube, anthers dithecous, usually basifixed or dorsifixed, introse.

Gynoecium:

Bicarpellary, syncarpous, ovary superior, bilocular, unilocular in Henoonia, axile placentation, placentae swollen, many ovules in each locule, ovary obliquely placed, posterior carpel to the right about 45° from median and the anterior to the left. In some cases nectariferous disc is present, style simple, stigma bifid or capitate.

Fruit: A capsule or berry.

Seed: Endospermic.

Economic Importance:

The family is of great economic importance.

(A) Ornamental plants:

These include many species of the genera Brunfelsia, Browallia, Cestruna, Datura, Lycium, Petunia, Cestrum nocturnum (the queen of the night) is an extremely fragrant plant. Hyoscyamus niger (the Henbane is also cultivated as an ornamental plant).

(B) Food plants:

(i) Solatium tuberosum: The stem tubers are the potato.

(ii) S. melongena: Brinjal, the fruit are eaten as vegetables.

(iii) Lycopersicum esculentum: The tomato fruit eaten raw and cooked as vegetable, other spices such as L. glandulosum, L. pinpinelligolium, L. pissi etc. also furnish edible fruits.

(iv) Physalis peruviana: Cape gooseberry (Raspberry) and other spices of the genus yield edible fruits.

(v) Capsicum annus: The chillies (Lai mirch) the fruits are used as spices and condiments.

(C) Tobacco:

Nicotiana tabacum and N. rustica are the two species whose leaves after proper curing give the tobacco of commerce. The leaves contain the alkaloid nicotine and are also used as insecticide.

(D) Medicinal plants:

Some plants of the family contain strong alkaloids and are of great medicinal value. The important ones are as follows:

(i) Atropa belladona and A. acuminata:

The roots are used in the manufacture of belladona plasters and tinctures, as a sedative stimulant and antispasmodic. The alkaloid atropine is also extracted from this plant.

(ii) Hyoscyamus niger:

The henbane-the leaves yield alkaloid hysocyamine and are used as sedative narcotic and also in the treatment of asthama and whooping cough.

(iii) Withania somnifera (Ashwangandh) the fruits leave and roots are used in the treatment of cough. They have narcotic and sporific properties.


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