Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mystery Plant

We discovered a new plant in the desert today!

We were down in Wilcox today, about 70 miles southeast of Tucson. While driving around in the middle of nowhere we noticed this weird vine randomly growing along the side of the road. I ordered the car to come to a stop so I could grab some pictures...

They kind of looked like watermelons...
IMG_3270

...But they are not quite the size of real watermelons.
Watermelon
(I took this shot a little farther down the road at the produce stand.)

The size of the mystery melon was more comparable to this...


As soon as I got home I did some Googling. It turns out these little things are called Coyote Melons and they are part of the gourd family.

Here is some more information from The Living Desert...
The pulp within the fruit is unpalatable, but was utilized by native people and during the depression, for soap. Clothing laundered with the soap reportedly helps to repel body lice.

The seeds are edible, unlike the pulp, and contain value as a source of protein (31%), and cooking oil (30%). The dried gourds have been used as rattles and containers. After the plant has gone to fruit, the stems dry up and wither away, later to re-sprout from the tuberous root once sufficient rains return.
Interesting Stuff! You learn something new every day!

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