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Cucurbita foetidissima (Stinking gourd)
Cressler, Alan

Cucurbita foetidissima

Cucurbita foetidissima Kunth

Stinking Gourd, Buffalo Gourd, Missouri Gourd, Stink Gourd, Wild Gourd

Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family)

Synonym(s): Pepo foetidissima


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A malodorous plant with large, gray-green, triangular leaves growing along long, prostrate stems. The plants are often 20-30 feet across, with rough, hairy leaves as much as 12 inches long. The large, bell-like flowers, 2-4 inches long, are yellow to orange, 5-lobed at the opening, with stamens that have large anthers deep inside the throat. The globular fruits, about 4 inches across, are green-striped when young, maturing to tennis-ball size and turning yellow. The plant supposedly gets the name "stink gourd" from its foul odor.


From the Image Gallery

38 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Pepo
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AR , AZ , CA , CO , FL , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MI , MO , NE , NM , NV , OH , OK , TX , UT , WI , WY
Native Distribution: Southern California to eastern Colorado; east to Missouri; south into Mexico.
Native Habitat: Open areas on plains and deserts.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: High


Use Medicinal: Pulverized root in tea to speed protracted labor in childbirth. Tea made from boiled peeled roots used to induce vomiting. Powdered seeds and flowers mixed with saliva to reduce swellings. Dried root ground to a powder, mixed with cold water and drunk for laxative.
Use Other: The inedible fruits are easily dried and often brightly painted for decorative use.
Warning: The foul-tasting mature fruit is poisonous to humans if eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Identification of vine with gourd-like fruit
June 30, 2010
We live on a farm, and I have noticed a vine that has leaves like grapes, but produces this flower, and a fruit that is rather large, shaped like a gourd, right now green in color. It is growing over ...
view the full question and answer

Are gourds poisonous, edible?
August 27, 2008
Are all the Gourds edible? How can I know which one is which? If it is not edible, is it poisonous? If not, what is stopping us from eating them?
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0324 Collected May 22, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0941 Collected Aug 5, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 610 - Edible wild plants of the prairie : an ethnobotanical guide (1987) Kindscher, K.
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cucurbita foetidissima in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cucurbita foetidissima in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cucurbita foetidissima


Record Modified: 2017-07-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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