Ceratosanthes Adans.
Ceratosanthes Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 139, 535. 1763.
Type: Ceratosanthes palmata (L.) Urb., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 15: 323. 1918; basionym: Trichosanthes palmata L., Sys. Nat. (ed. 10) 2: 1278.1759; lectotype: Plumier in Burman, Pl. Amer., 14, t. 24. 1755 (designated by Jeffrey in Stoffers & Lindeman (ed.), Fl. Suriname 5: 463. 1984.). 


Climber with up to 5 m long, herbaceous shoots, large tuberous rootstock and dioecious or monoecious sex system. The leaves are simple, petiolate, with ovate, pentagonal to reniform, palmately 3-5-lobed blades, sometimes reduced or caducous at flowering time. The tendrils are simple, filiform, short. The flowers are small and open at night. The male flowers are produced in long pedunculate racemes, the female flowers are solitary or in fascicles of 2-4. The receptacle-tube is elongate, cylindrical, apically expanded, with five lanceolate, c. 2 mm long sepals. The five petals are cream-coloured, c. 10 mm long, bifid in the apical half, and usually involute. The three stamens are inserted near the mouth of the tube on very short, free filaments. Two anthers are bithecous, one monothecous with straight thecae containing 3-4-colporate, irregularly reticulate, medium-sized pollen (polar axis 50-60 µm, equatorial axis 53-63 µm, (Khunwasi 1998)). The ovary is globose to fusiform with two placentae and many horizontal ovules. The two stigmata are bifid. The fruit is an ovoid-oblong, green or red, often white-spotted berry, rostrate, smooth, glabrous, and indehiscent, reaching 4 cm in length and 2 cm in diameter. The many seeds are ovoid to subglobose, tumid, with smooth, pale testa and distinct margin.

The 12 species of the genus grow in semiarid plains and on mountain slopes, roadsides, and cultivated ground from the Caribbean and Central America to northern Argentina.

The genus Ceratosanthes is placed in the tribe Coniandreae (Schaefer & Renner 2011), where it groups with Doyerea (Schaefer et al. 2009).

Accepted species

Ceratosanthes angustiloba Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 27: 37 1890.
Ceratosanthes cuneata Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 27: 37 1890.
Ceratosanthes hilariana Cogn., Diagn. Cucurb. Nouv. 2: 31 1877.
Ceratosanthes humilis Cogn., Pflanzenr. IV, 275 I: 243 1916.
Ceratosanthes latiloba Cogn., Diagn. Cucurb. Nouv. 2: 33 1877.
Ceratosanthes multiloba Cogn., Diagn. Cucurb. Nouv. 2: 29 1877.
Ceratosanthes palmata (L.) Urb., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 15: 323. 1918.
Ceratosanthes parviflora Cogn., Bull. Acad. Roy. Sci. Belgique III, 16: 232 1888.
Ceratosanthes rupicola Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 27: 38 1890.
Ceratosanthes tomentosa Cogn., Diagn. Cucurb. Nouv. 2: 29 1877.
Ceratosanthes trifoliata Cogn., Diagn. Cucurb. Nouv. 2: 34 1877.
Ceratosanthes warmingii Cogn., Mém. Couronnés Mém. Savants Étrangers Acad. Roy. Sci. Bruxelles (4to) 28: 1878.


Khunwasi, C. 1998. Palynology of the Cucurbitaceae. Doctoral Dissertation Naturwiss. Fak., University of Innsbruck.

Pozner, R. 1998. Cucurbitaceae. Flora Fanerogámica Argentina. Fascículo 53. 275. Proflora (Conicet), Córdoba: 58 pp.

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.

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.