Topic 7 Introduction to Cucurbits

Horticulture guruji

Introduction to Cucurbits

Vegetables Science

  • Cucurbits are the popular name of the family cucurbitaceae, commonly known as the gourd family.
  • They are widely distributed in the tropics and warm temperate regions of south, southeast and East Asia, Africa including Madagascar, central and south America.
  • The family is represented by about 120 genera and 800 species. Cucurbits are mostly climbers and trailers, are rarely woody and arborescent.
  • The most common uses of cucurbits are as vegetables and fruits.
  • Most of cucurbits are monoecious in nature.
  • Pointed Gourd, Spine Gourd and Scarlet Gourd are dioecious in nature.
  • Fruit is essentially an inferior berry and is called ‘Pepo’ due to hard rind when mature.
  • Cucurbitacine a toxic substance present in cucurbits and it is responsible for bitter test in most of cucurbites.
  • Cucurbitacine are tetracyclic triterpins having extensive oxidation level. Fruits and roots have more concentration then leaves. Pollen grain also carries fairly good amount of bitter principle.
  • Cucurbits are mostly annual plants but some are perennial like chow-chow, pointed gourd and ivy gourd.
  • The fruits of all cucurbits are many seeded except chow chow.
  • In Cucurbits coiling tendrils arising from the leaf base but absent in bushy cucurbites.
  • In cucurbits coarse hairs are present on the stem.
  • They are characterized by inferior ovary and parietal placentation.

Overy Insertion, Superior overy, Inferior Overy
Overy Insertion, Superior overy, Inferior Overy

Axile Placentation, Pariental Placentation
Axile Placentation, Pariental Placentation

Sr No. Common Name Botanical Name
1 Cucumber Cucumis sativus
2 Watermelon Citrullus lanatus
3 Muskmelon Cucumis melo
4 Ridgegourd Luffa acutangula
5 Spongegourd Luffa cylindrica
6 Bittergourd Momordica charantia
7 Pumpkin Cucurbita moschata
8 Round melon (Tinda) Pracitrullus fistulosus
9 Bottlegourd Lagenaria siceraria
10 Pointedgourd Trichosanthes dioica
11 Snakegourd Trichosanthes cucumerina
12 Summer squash Cucurbita pepo
13 Winter squash Cucurbita maxima
14 Gherkin Cucumis angaria
15 Cantaloupe Cucumis. melo var cantaloupensis
16 Waxgourd Benincasa hispida
17 Ivygourd Coccinia grandis
18 Chow Chow Sechium edule

Uses of cucurbits 

  • Vegetable: Bitter Gourd, Ridge Gourd and Sponge Gourd, Round Gourd, Pointed Gourd and Pumpkin are used as vegetables.
  • Salad: Cucumber and Little Gourd are used as salads.
  • Table Purpose: Muskmelon, Water Melon, and Cucumber are eaten as fruits.
  • Pickle: Cucumber, Little gourd and Bitter Gourd are used for making pickle.

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Diseases  Management of Cucurbits

  1. Powdery Mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum):

White round spots appear on the lower surface of the old leaves. These spots begin to grow in size and number slowly the spots take cover the whole leaf


  • The field should be kept free from weeds.
  • The affected parts of the plant should be cut and destroyed.
  • Bavastin or Karathane on the crop (0.1%) should be sprayed.

2. Downy Mildew (Pseudopernospora cubensis):-

Yellow to reddish brown spots appear on the upper surface of the plant leaves which appear as a cotton-like growth of pink to purple when seen from the below the leaf surface. In sever attack leaves become turn yellow and start drying. Sometime plant growth also stops.


  • Crop rotation should be adopted.
  • The residues of the old crop should be burnt.
  • 2.5 gm of Mencozeb should be dissolved in 1000 litres of water and sprayed.

3. Fruit Rot (Choanephora cucurbita or Pythum spp.):-

In more moisture and higher temperatures, the disease is more visible.

  1. First symptoms shown on flowers they are rotten and cottony mass of purplish to black colour appear on it. Gradually, the disease is also visible in fruits and the fruits begin to rot.


  • There should be proper drainage system.
  • Giving the support to climb the vine.

4. Anthracnose (Colletotrichum lagenerium):-

The disease is transmitted with irrigation, agricultural instruments or by pests. In this disease, the spots cover the entire leaves and the fruits also show water soaked round or oval spots. These spots come to the whole fruit and the fruits begin to rot.


  • Crop rotation should be adopted
  • The field should be kept free from weeds.
  • Seeds should be treated with Thiaram or Carbendazime @ 2.5 gm/kg to seeds before sowing the seed.

5. Witches Broom (Mycoplasma):

This disease is mainly seen in bittergourd. The growth in the early stages of the plant stops the plant’s top bud (axillary bud) becomes malformation, the size of the leaves is too small and the plant looks like a broom, sometimes the plant has a small and a large number of flowers, but they do not functional.


  • Before sowing in the field should be added @ 1.5 carbofuran per hector.
  • Monocrotophos (0.05%) at the stage of 4-6 leaves of the plant or Phosphamidon (0.05%) should be sprayed at intervals of 10 days.
  • Oxytetracycline hydrochloride (500 ppm) solution should be spray .

6. Green Mottle Mosaic (Virus): –

The disease is more visible in cucumbers, small yellow patches appear on the plant, sometimes the leaves appear green and the chlorophyll is yellow from the entire leaf (Vien Clearing). The new leaf emerges completely deformed which is even smaller in size. The carrier of this disease aphid.


  • Seed should be treated with seed Thiaram or Captan 2g/Kg before sowing.
  • Monocrotophos (0.05%) at the initial stage of the plant or Phosphamidon (0.05%) should be sprayed at intervals of 10 days.

Insect pest Control 

  1. Red pumpkin beetle (Aulacophora foveicollis): –

Yellowish brown beetle feed on leaf and make them like sieves. Some time cut plant stem to ground level.


  • Quinalphos (0.05%)  should be sprayed at intervals of 10 days.

2. Fruit Fly (Bactocera cucurbitae):-

This is serious pest of cucurbits. Pest puncture the young fruits and lay eggs below the skin.

Control: –

  • Fenthion (0.05%) should be sprayed with juggery solution.

3. Thrips (Thrips tabaci): –

Thrips suck the sap from the leaves and the soft parts of the plant and damage it.


  • Dematon 0.05% or monocrotophos (0.05%) should be sprayed.