Coccinia Wight & Arn.
Coccinia Wight & Arn., Prodr. Fl. Ind. Orient. 1: 347-348. 1834.
Type: Coccinia indica Wight & Arn., nom. illeg.; basionym Bryonia grandis L., Mant. Pl. 1: 126, 1767; lectotype Linnaeus 1153.2 (LINN), designated by Nazimuddin & Naqvi (1984).
Cephalandra Eckl. & Zeyh., Enum. Pl. Afr. Austral: 280. 1836.
Physedra Hook. f., Gen. Pl. 1: 827. 1867.
Staphylosyce Hook. f., Gen. Pl. 1: 828. 1867.

Herbaceous to woody climbers or trailers with up to 10 m long shoots, tuberous roots reaching up to 10 kg, and dioecious sex system. The leaves are simple, with an angled, cordate, or divided blade. The tendrils are simple or bifid. Probracts and bracts present at the base of the petiole, often with nectaries. The flowers are medium-sized, the male flowers are solitary, clustered or in racemes, the female flowers solitary or in racemes. The receptacle-tube is short, campanulate or turbinate with five entire, usually small and dentiform sepals. The corolla is campanulate, up to 8 cm across, comprising five more or less fused petals 5, which are white, salmon, yellow or orange in color. The three stamens are inserted at the base of the tube on free or apically connate or completely fused filaments. The anthers are free or form a central head, all bithecous (rarely two bithecous and one monothecous). The thecae are triplicate and contain tricolporate, reticulate, medium-sized pollen (polar axis 58-92 µm, equatorial axis 52-92 µm, (Khunwasi 1998)). The ovary is ovoid, oblong or linear, smooth, with three placentae and many horizontal ovules. The style is filiform with trilobed stigma 3. The indehiscent fruit is edible, fleshy, small and globose or cylindrical and to 30 cm long, baccate, ripening orange to red or greenish, often red- and white-spotted. The many seeds are ovate to pear-shaped, compressed, with fibrillose, marginate testa. The chromosome number is 2n = 20-24 (Holstein 2015) with 2n = 22 + XY sex chromosomes in Coccinia grandis Voigt (Bhaduri and Bose 1947; Bhar and Datta 1982).

The 25 species grow in rainforest, deciduous bushland, riverine forest and (semi-desert) grassland in tropical and subtropical Africa. One species, C. grandis, is widespread from Africa to Asia and naturalized on the American and Australian continents.

The genus Coccinia is placed in the tribe Benincaseae, where it groups with the Old world genera Muellerargia plus Cucumis (Schaefer et al. 2009; Schaefer & Renner 2011).

Accepted species

Coccinia abyssinica (Lam.) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 536. 1881.
Coccinia adoensis (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 538. 1881.
Coccinia barteri (Hook.f.) Keay, Kew Bull. 8: 82. 1953.
Coccinia grandiflora Cogn. ex Engl., Abh. Königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1894: 34. 1894.
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt, Hort. Suburb. Calcutt. 59. 1845.
Coccinia heterophylla (Hook.f.) Holstein, Kew Bull. 65: 435-441. 2010 [2011].
Coccinia hirtella Cogn., Bull. Herb. Boissier 4: 821. 1896.
Coccinia intermedia Holstein, PhytoKeys 7: 28. 2011.
Coccinia keayana R. Fern., Bol. Soc. Brot. II, 33: 191. 1959.
Coccinia longicarpa Jongkind, Blumea 49: 83. 2004.
Coccinia mackenii Naudin ex C. Huber, Cat. Print. 1865: 5. 1865.
Coccinia megarrhiza C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 15: 347. 1962.
Coccinia microphylla Gilg, Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 34: 357. 1903.
Coccinia mildbraedii Gilg ex Harms, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 8: 492. 1923.
Coccinia ogadensis Thulin, Kew Bull. 64: 485. 2009.
Coccinia pwaniensis Holstein, Kew Bull. 65: 435. 2010 [2011].
Coccinia quinqueloba (Thunb.) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 533. 1881.
Coccinia racemiflora Keraudren, Adansonia n.s., 8: 41. 1968.
Coccinia rehmannii Cogn., Bull. Herb. Boissier 3: 418. 1895.
Coccinia samburuensis Holstein, Kew Bull. 65: 438. 2010 [2011].
Coccinia schliebenii Harms, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 685. 1932.
Coccinia senensis (Klotzsch) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 535. 1881.
Coccinia sessilifolia (Sond.) Cogn., Monogr. Phan. 3: 534. 1881.
Coccinia subsessiliflora Cogn., Bull. Jard. Bot. État 4: 225. 1914.
Coccinia trilobata (Cogn.) C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 15: 349. 1962.


Bhaduri, P.N. and P.C. Bose. 1947. Cytogenetical investigations in some common cucurbits with special reference to fragmentation of chromosomes as a physical basis of speciation. J. Genet. 48: 237-256.

Bhar, N.C. and K.B. Datta. 1982. Cytomorphological studies in diploid and induced tetraploid of Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt. Proc. Ind. Sci. Congress Ass. 69: 216.

Holstein, N. 2015. Monograph of Coccinia. Phytokeys 54: 1-166.

Holstein, N. and S. S. Renner. 2010. Coccinia (Cucurbitaceae) gains two new species from East Africa, three new synonyms, and one new combination. Kew Bulletin 65: 435-441.

Holstein, N. and S. S. Renner. 2011. A dated phylogeny and collection records reveal repeated biome shifts in the African genus Coccinia (Cucurbitaceae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 28.

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

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.