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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - September 07, 2008

From: Buchanan, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation
Title: No female, hence, no squash.
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

This is not a wild flower but. My grandchildren left a squash outside in a corner of a flower bed. This spring it grew. There are only male flowers, many of them, but no female, hence, no squash. Why? I separated the seedlings because there were so many but can not find any female flowers anywhere.

ANSWER:

Squash, like other members of the Cucumber Family (Cucurbitaceae) have unisexual (male and female) flowers. In most squash species the male and female flowers are on the same plant (monoecy) as opposed to being on different plants (dioecy). The separation of the sexes into different flowers helps promote outcrossing between individuals. In squash, maturation of the male flowers before the female flowers (a condition called protandry) often occurs. Keep an eye on your plants as they grow older and the female flowers should start to appear.
 

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