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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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Saturday - April 17, 2010

From: Hext, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Identification of large egg-like objects on vines in Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

This past weekend we were at our deer lease in Hext,TX. My children and I went exploring along the banks of the San Saba river and found what we originally thought were some type of turtle or turkey egg. But then we found of of these large egg looking things attached to a vine and I assume they are instead some type of plant, but we aren't sure what. The "eggs" are very large and can not be confused with hen eggs (or the Easter egg plant). The outside shell white/mottled with brown and is extremely durable. We had to literally get a rock and bust it against the egg to see what was inside. On the inside we saw what looked like a yellow, dried spongey material and in the center of that, it looked like some sort of shriveled seeds. We are very curious as to what it is that we have found. Could you please help us figure it out??

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that perhaps this is the fruit/gourd of Cucurbita foetidissima (buffalo gourd).  They are certainly large enough (about 3-4 inches in diameter) and would be dry and hard at the time of year that you found them.

Alternatively, they could be a plant gall.  They can be caused by insects, mites, nematodes, fungi and bacteria.  You can see photographs of various galls caused by insects on the Bug Guide.  You don't say what kind of vine you found the growth on or if it's on the ground or growing up a tree, but crown gall is caused by a bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and often infects grape vines.

If we haven't identified your mystery 'eggs' and you happen to have photos of them, please send them to us and we will do our very best to identify them.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Here are a few photos from our Image Gallery of the fruits of buffalo gourd:


Cucurbita foetidissima

Cucurbita foetidissima

Cucurbita foetidissima

Cucurbita foetidissima

 

 

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