Comparative studies on the morphology and anatomy of the three species of Cucurbita L. (C. moschata, C. maxima and C. pepo) in Nigeria were carried out. The morphological features of significance include variations in the number of tendrils, fruit size, shape, nature of fruit stalk, leaf shape and flower colour. Seed-coat anatomy revealed four distinct zones, which varied in thickness and tissue layers. Similarities were observed in the distribution, differentiation and number of layers of cells and tissues in the leaf, petiole and stem sections. There were, however, variations in number of bicollateral vascular bundles in their petiole. While the number is 10 in C. moschata, 14 in C. pepo, it is 16 in C. maxima. Parietal placentation and 15 anther-lobes are reported for these species for the first time. The usefulness of these parameters in the taxonomic delimitation of these species is discussed.
Key Words: Cucurbita, morpho-anatomy, placentation, seed-coat, taxonomy, vascular bundles.
African Journal of Biotechnology Vo l.3(10) 2004: 541-546