Text Ref: Dale 103; Hickman, Ed. 536; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 392.
Photo Ref: Aug 1 84 # 18; June 99 #23.
Identity: by R. De Ruff.
First Found: June 1983. Lat. 33° 37’ 18.3”N; Long. 117° 53’ 23.6” W.
Computer Ref: Plant Data 16
Plant Specimen: None
Last Edit: 9/6/10.
VASCULAR PLANTS OF UPPER NEWPORT BAY
Plant Characteristics: Coarse rough, strong-smelling perennial with an immense fusiform
root; stems mostly trailing, 2-4 m. long; leaves erect triangular-ovate, somewhat cordate at
base, 1-2.5 dm. long on somewhat shorter petioles; staminate flowers 10-12 cm. long, rough
pubescent, the corolla ribbed, veiny, with broad lobes; pistillate flowers 9-10 cm. long,
pubescent; calyx lobes narrow, 8-10 mm. long; fruit slightly oblong-globose, 6-9 cm. high,
dull light green with 5-6 main cream-white stripes and a few intermediate ones as well;
peduncles angled; seeds oblong-ovate, about 12 mm. long.
Habitat: Found throughout S. Calif, Coastal Sage Scrub, Coastal Strand, V. Grassland, Mojave
Desert, etc. cismontane Calif; to about 4000 feet. Blooms June-Aug. The species was first
found along Back Bay Dr. between the Shellmaker Id. entrance and Newporter Canyon where a
nearby soil sample is silty sand with enough silt to form clods that are hard to break when
rolled in the fingers. pH=7.2. Nearby growth is mostly Poaceae species.
Name: Cucurbita, the Latin name for gourd. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 392). Latin, foetidus, ill-
smelling. (Jaeger 102). The foliage has a foul odor. (Dale 103).
General Information: Occasional throughout the study area. Photographed on the easterly
side of the Delhi channel and above Back Bay Dr. between the Shellmaker entrance and
Newporter Canyon. (my comments). The Indians made a tea from the plant for bloat and
also for worms. Used by some tribes as a cure for gonorrhea and syphilis. The root was used
for soap. Green or dried fruit, crushed with a little soap was used for removing stains. Dried
seeds were made into a mush. A poultice of crushed root and sugar was used for saddle sores.
(Bean and Saubel 58). Roots were chewed and applied to skin ulcers, open sores; also used
as soap and shampoo. (Coon 130). The gourds were used as ladles by the California
Indians. (Heizer & Elsasser 244). Spanish ladies used the gourds as darning balls. (Dale
104). The root is a purgative more powerful than croton-oil. When pounded to a pulp, it is
used as a soap by the Spanish-Californians, but rinsing must be very thorough-for any
particles remaining in the garments prove very irritating to the skin. (Parsons 121).
Parson's book was published in 1909. (my comment). About 25 species of the warmer parts
of America; many grown for food, ornaments, etc. (Munz, Flora, So. Calif. 392).