En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Identification of gourd plant growing in central California

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 10, 2012

From: Antelope, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of gourd plant growing in central California
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am not sure if this flowering plant is native to North America. It is found in dry land grazing fields at about 100 feet in elevation in central California. It is large--2-6 feet across with a sticky smelly substance on the hairy leaves, multiple yellow lipped bilateral flowers with a red throat on a stem. The cucumber/gourd like fruit I saw was immature, but was horn-shaped, quite bulbous at the stem end and pencil thin at the tip. I have photos, if that would help.

ANSWER:

My first thought was that you had found Cucurbita foetidissima (Stinking gourd), but the flower shape and the fruit shape are wrong.  They are, however, gourds and pretty stinky. 

We think what you saw was the non-native species, Ibicella lutea (Yellow unicorn-plant), a weed introduced from South America.  The flowers are the right shape, the young fruits are the correct shape and it has leaves covered with sticky hairs.  You can see that the fruits turn into a dramatic seed case with two formidable-looking claws.  Another common name for the plant is Devil's Claw.  Ibicella lutea is closely related to several, closely-related North American native plant species classified in the genus, Proboscidea, including the very similar, Proboscidea althaeifolia.

If this doesn't happen to be the plant you saw, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that accept photos of plants for identification.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identity of plant that resembles rosemary in Georgia
August 13, 2012 - Hi, I am an herbalist, but have been unable to identify this plant and it's driving me nuts since I cannot find any information on it. I live in NE Ga and have a plant that grows here that looks li...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Tennessee
January 06, 2012 - I have this vine that grows in my backyard and on the vine there are green balls about half the size of a hedge apple and inside balls are a bunch of seeds. The deer love to eat these. Do you know wha...
view the full question and answer

What's invading my bermuda grass?
June 11, 2013 - Our grass is being totally overrun by this weed.(I don't know what the name is identify it by the description. It is in Bermuda grass and the only way to describe the weed is to say it looks like big...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification of plant similar to Oxytropis campestris
June 08, 2012 - This plant was found in Breckenridge Texas. Yellow flowers like Oxytropis campestris, yet it is not supposed to be in Texas. Is this possible? Soil is gravelly, sandy and yellow clay. sorry no pho...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vines in Florida
October 30, 2012 - Hello, I have 2 different types of vines growing in my shrubs. They are very pretty and I like them I just want to know if they are poisonous or if they will take over my shrubs. I have not been able ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center