Benincasa Savi, Biblioth. Ital. 9: 158. 1818.
Type: Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn., basionym: Cucurbita hispida Thunb., Nova Acta Regiae Soc. Sci. Upsal., ser. 2, 4: 33, 38. 1783; Thunberg 22775 (UPS), Japan.
Camolenga Post & Kuntze, Lex. 95. 1903 (‚1904‘).
Praecitrullus Pangalo, Journ. Bot. URSS 29: 203. 1944.
Annual, herbaceous climber or trailer with monoecious sex system. The simple leaves reniform-ovate, petiolate, 5-11-lobed or -angled, deeply cordate, the tendrils bifid or 3-4(-5)-fid. The medium-sized flowers are solitary with broadly campanulate or flat, saucer-shaped, villous receptacle-tube. The five (rarely six) sepals are short, triangular, the corolla rotate, flat, villous outside, smooth inside. The five (rarely six) petals are yellow, fused at base, obovate, entire. The three stamens are inserted at the base of the tube on short, free filaments. Two anthers are bithecous, one monothecous (ore rarely three bithecous). The thecae are triplicate with medium-sized, tricolporate, reticulate or baculate pollen (polar axis 51-64 µm, equatorial axis 58-70 µm, (Khunwasi 1998)). The ovary is globose to ovoid with three placentae and many, horizontal ovules. The style is short and thick with 1-3 stigmata. The fruit is baccate, indehiscent, oblong-terete, at first hispid, later glabrous, ripening light or dark green, covered with white wax. The many seeds are oblong, compressed with smooth, black or white testa, with thick margin. The chromosome number is n = 12 (Beevy and Kuriachan 1996).
Benincasa hispida, the wax gourd, is cultivated throughout the Tropics. It is thought to be native to forest margins and secondary scrub of New Caledonia, New Ireland, New Guinea, and tropical NE Australia. A second species, the tinda melon, B. fistulosa (= Praecitrullus fistulosus), from India and Pakistan is known in cultivation only.
Phylogenetically, Benincasa forms a clade with Blastania, Dactyliandra, and Trochomeria in the tribe Benincaseae (Schaefer & Renner 2011).
Benincasa fistulosa (Stocks) H. Schaef. & S. S. Renner, Taxon 60: 133. 2011.
Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 513. 1881.
Beevy, S.S. and P. Kuriachan. 1996. Chromosome numbers of South Indian Cucurbitaceae and a note on the cytological evolution in the family. J. Cytol. Genet. 31: 65-71.
De Wilde, W. J. J. O. and B. E. E. Duyfjes. 2009. Miscellaneous South East Asian cucurbit news. II. Reinwardtia 12: 405-414.
Khunwasi, C. 1998. Palynology of the Cucurbitaceae. Doctoral Dissertation Naturwiss. Fak., University of Innsbruck.
Marr, K.L., Y.-M. Xia and N.K. Bhattarai. 2007. Allozymic, morphological, phenological, linguistic, plant use, and nutritional data of Benincasa hispida (Cucurbitaceae). Econ. Bot. 61: 44-59.
Schaefer, H. and S.S. Renner. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships in the order Cucurbitales and a new classification of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Taxon 60: 122-138.
Stocks, J. 1851. An account of the Dilpasand, a kind of vegetable marrow. Hooker’s J. Bot. Kew Gard. Misc. 3: 74-77, t. 3.
Whistler, W.A. 1990. The other Polynesian Gourd. Pacific Sci. 44: 115-122.