Perennial climber with dioecious sex system and up to 2 m long shoots growing from a tuberous, partly above-ground rootstock, which can reach more than 30 cm in diameter. The leaves are simple, elliptic-cordate, pinnately or palmately 5-7-lobed, to 9 cm long, almost sessile, and semiamplexicaul. The tendrils are simple or absent. The flowers are solitary or paired, medium-sized, with a cylindrical to campanulate receptacle-tube. The five sepals are triangular-lanceolate and 2-3 mm long. The five yellow petals are partly fused. The three bithecous stamens are inserted in the lower half of the tube on long filaments. The thecae are triplicate with medium-sized pollen (polar axis 82-84 µm, equatorial axis 79-80 µm), triporate, baculate (Khunwasi 1998). The ellipsoid hairy ovary contains many horizontal ovules and develops into an ellipsoid, smooth fruit, attenuate at the ends, to 8 cm long, and 4 cm in diameter, ripening red. The many pear-shaped seeds are blackish-brown, verrucous, and compressed.
The only species, C. ecirrhosa (Cogn.) C. Jeffrey, grows in deciduous Acacia woodland and bushland of lowland semi-deserts to 1000 m in Northeastern tropical Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia).
Cephalopentandra groups with Borneosicyos, Solena, and Lemurosicyos in Benincaseae (Schaefer et al. 2009; Schaefer & Renner 2011).
Khunwasi, C. 1998. Palynology of the Cucurbitaceae. Doctoral Dissertation Naturwiss. Fak., University of Innsbruck.
Schaefer, H., Heibl, C., and S.S. Renner. 2009. Gourds afloat: a dated phylogeny reveals an Asian origin of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) and numerous oversea dispersal events. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 843-851.
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