Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 3:45-46 (article 26) 1980
Synonymy of Cucurbita martinezii and C. okeechobeensis
R. W. Robinson and J. T. Puchalski
New York State Agricultural Experiment
Station, Geneva, NY 14456 (first author); Botanical Garden
of the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, Poland (second author)
The okeechobee gourd was first given the name Pepo
okeechobeensis by Small in 1930 (7). Bailey (2) retained
the species name for this denizen of the Lake Okeechobee
area in Florida but correctly revised its genus designation
Cucurbita martinezii was named by Bailey in 1943
(1). He distinguished C. martinezii from C.
okeechobeensis primarily on the basic of pubescence
and exocarp characteristics. Although he reported that the
petiole and lower leaf surface of C. okeechobeensis
is pubescent and that of C. martinezii is nonpubescent,
we found no significant difference in pubescence of different
accessions of the two putative species. Also, pubescence
is evident on the lower as well as the upper leaf surfaces
and the petioles of herbarium specimens of C. martinezii
in the Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University, that were
collected by M. Martinez in Aloyac, Mexico in 1941 and sent
to Bailey. Accessions of okeechobeensis from Florida
as well as those of martinezii from Mexico had similar light
and dark green longitudinal striping on the fruit, although
Bailey reported okeechobeensis to have striped
and martinezii nonstriped fruit. He described the
fruit rind of martinezii as being thick, very hard,
and difficult to the knife whereas that of okeechobeensis
was thin and not usually resisting. However, we found the
exocarp of each accession of okeechobeensis to
be equally thick and hard as those of martinezii.
The morphological similarity of C. martinezii and
C. okeechobeensis is supported by the numerical
taxonomy study of Bemis et al. (3).
Cucurbita martinezii and C. okeechobeensis
are also alike in disease resistance. Munger (4) reported
that C. martinezii is resistant to cucumber mosaic
virus, and he confirmed T. W. Whitaker's finding that it
is resistant to powdery mildew. Cucurbita okeechobeensis
has an equally high level of resistance to cucumber mosaic
virus (5), and it is also resistant to powdery mildew. Both
are also alike in being resistant to the severe strain of
bean yellow mosaic virus, tobacco ringspot virus, and tomato
ringspot virus. Both C. martinezii and C. okeechobeensis
recovered from squash mosaic virus inoculation, unlike most
of the other species tested, and both were susceptible to
watermelon mosaic virus-1 and watermelon mosaic virus-2.
They did not differ in reaction to any disease.
There is no sterility barrier isolating C. martinezii
from C. okeechobeensis. Reciprocal crosses
were easily made and the F1 hybrids were fully fertile.
Cucurbita martinezii differs from all but one
of the know species of Cucurbita by having a cream
colored corolla. The only other species to have cream instead
of yellow petals in C. okeechobeensis. A single
recessive gene and a modifier governs this flower fruit
in C. martinezii (6). Our results indicate that
C. okeechobeensis also has single recessive basic gene
for cream corolla color, and it is allelic to the gene of
Convincing evidence for synonymy of C. martinezii
and C. okeechobeensis was obtained by starch gel
electrophoresis of isozymes. Four accessions of C. okeechobeensis
were compared to six accessions of C. martinezii
and also with 17 different species of Cucurbita.
Each accession of okeechobeensis and martinezii
was identical in esterase, peroxidase, and leucine amino
peptidase isozymes and all were distinct in isozymes from
each of the other Cucurbita species.
The only apparent difference between the two entities is
their origin, C. martinezii being from Mexico and
C. okeechobeensis from Florida. In the absence
of any other significant difference, it is concluded they
are the same species, which was introduced to Florida from
Mexico in prehistoric times. An unsolved question is how
this species traveled such a great distance. One possible
explanation is that it was acquired by an Indian tribe in
Florida by trade with Indians from the west. The extremely
bitter flesh of this species precludes it from being used
for food, but the seeds are edible and nutritious and the
fruit could also have been used for its detergent quality.
The hard rind and good keeping ability would make it possible
for the fruit to be transported from Mexico to Florida,
even with the very long time such a trip must have taken.
Another possible explanation for the migration of the species
from Mexico to Florida is by oceanic drift in the Gulf Stream
of fruit containing viable seed.
The species name okeechobeensis has priority,
hence, is preferred to its synonym, martinezii.
- Bailey, L. H. 1943. Species of Cucurbita. Gentes
- Bailey, L. H. 1930. Three discussions in Cucurbitaceae.
Gentes Herbarum 2: 175-186.
- Bemis, W. P., A. M. Rhodes, T. W. Whitaker, and S. G.
Carmer. 1970. Numerical taxonomy applied to Cucurbita
relationships. Amer. J. Bot. 57: 404-412.
- Munger, H. M. 1976. Cucurbita martinezii as
source of disease resistance. Veg. Imp. Newsletter 18:4.
- Provvidenti, R., R. W. Robinson, and H. M. Munger. 1978.
Resistance in feral species to six viruses infecting Cucurbita. Plant Dis. Rpt. 62:326-329.
- Roe, N. E. and W. P. Bemis. 1977. Corolla color in Cucurbita.
J. Hered. 68: 193-194.
- Small, J. K. 1930. The okeechobee gourd. J. New
York Bot. Gard. 31: 10-14.