Cucurbita citrullus. Watermelon. Cucurbita pepo. Pumpkin.
Nat. Ord. — Cucurbitaceae. Sex. Syst. — Monoecia Monadelphia.
Description. — The Cucurbita Citrullus of Linnaeus, and Cucumis Citrullus of Seringe, is an annual plant with a prostrate, slender, hairy stem, with branching tendrils. The leaves are palmately five-lobed, very glaucous beneath, lobes mostly sinuate-pinnatifid, all the segments obtuse. The flowers are yellow, solitary, on hairy peduncles, and bracted at the base. Calyx tubular-campunulate, five-toothed ; corolla deeply five-parted ; filaments of the male flower, three; pistils of the female, three-cleft; style short; stigmas three, thick, two-lobed ; pepo or fruit, oval, or elliptical, smooth, discolored, indehiscent, subligneous, and light or dark-green externally, beneath which is a white, juicy substance, and in the center a red or yellow edible pulp, sweet, juicv or watery, and delicious; it is from three to five-celled, and contains many obovate, smooth, compressed seeds, thickened at the margin, and of a black or yellowish-white color.
Cucurbita Pepo is also an annual plant, hispid and scabrous, with a procumbent stem and branching tendrils. The leaves are large, cordate, palmately five-lobed, or angled, denticulate ; the flowers are yellow, large, axillary, the males long-pedunculate. Corolla campanulate ; petals united and coherent with the calyx. Calyx of male flowers, five-toothed ; of females the same, and upper part deciduous after flowering; stigmas three, thick, two-lobed ; pepo or fruit sub-ligneous, very large, roundish, or oblong, smooth, yellow when ripe, furrowed and torulose, containing yellowish seeds, somewhat resembling those of the watermelon in form.
History. — The Watermelon is a native of Africa and Southern Asia, and is cultivated in this country for its large and delicious fruit which is usually ripened in August, the flowers appearing in June and July. The pumpkin flowers in July, and matures its fruit in September and October ; it is a native of the Levant, and is extensively cultivated as a kitchen vegetable, and for cattle. The seeds of these plants are used in medicine; their virtues reside in the external covering which contains a large proportion of mucilage, which is freely imparted to water; hence, in preparing an infusion the seeds should never be bruised. An oil may be obtained from the pumpkin seeds, and probably from those of the watermelon also, by expression.
Properties and Uses. — Mucilaginous and diuretic, and of service in strangury, and other urinary affections, also in gastritis, enteritis, and febrile diseases. The infusion may be drank freely. The red, fleshy, juicy pulp of the watermelon is diuretic, and forms a grateful article of diet for febrile patients, when not contra-indicated. The expressed oil of the pumpkin seeds, in doses of from six to twelve drops several times a day, is said to be a most certain and efficient diuretic, giving quick relief in scalding of urine, spasmodic affections of the urinary passages, and has cured gonorrhea. The seeds of the Cucurbita Lagenaria, or gourd, the Cucumis Melo, or muskmelon, and the Cucumis Sativus, or cucumber, possess similar properties, but in a milder degree.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Cucurbitae.