Annual herbaceous vine to several meters long Stem: coarse and rough-hairy. Leaves: alternate, stalked, 15 - 30 cm long, triangular to egg-shaped in outline with a pointed tip, shallowly to deeply lobed, irregularly toothed, rough-hairy. Flowers: either male or female, found on the same plant (monoecious), borne solitary in leaf axils on a strongly angled stalk, with fused yellow petals ending in erect to spreading pointed lobes. Fruit: an orange, furrowed, large berry with a thick rind (pepo). The many seeds are white to tan-white, 10 - 18 mm long, less than 1.3 cm wide, elliptic, and have a raised margin. Tendrils: branched.
Similar species: Cucurbita foetidissima has unpleasantly scented leaves and recurved petal lobes. Citrullus lantanus and Cucumis melo have flowers that are flat and circular in outline. Additionally, C. lantanus has deeply pinnate-lobed leaves, and C. melo has unbranched tendrils. Cucurbita pepo var. ovifera has smaller leaves and smaller fruit than the typical variety, and the fruit can be found in various shapes and colors.
Habitat and ecology: Native to Mexico and the eastern United States, this species is sometimes found in dumpsites and along roadsides.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Cucurbita is the Latin name for a gourd. Pepo is the Latin word for a kind of melon and is derived from the Greek word pepon, meaning ripe.