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Ruthalicia | Cucurbitaceae


Ruthalicia C. Jeffrey
Ruthalicia C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 15: 360. 1962.
Type: Ruthalicia longipes (Hook.f.) C. Jeffrey, Vogel 223 (K), Equatorial Guinea, Fernando Póo [Bioko], Nov. 1841.

Perennial climber with several meters long, herbaceous shoots and dioecious sex system. The leaves are simple, petiolate, with broadly ovate, pedately 3-7-lobed blade. The tendrils are simple. The flowers are large and showy, male flowers are produced in racemes, female flowers axillary, solitary or in pairs or in few-flowered fascicles. The receptacle-tube is funnel-shaped, apically broadened with five triangular sepals. The yellow corolla is rotate with five free petals (or less often petal-base fused), up to 1.5 cm long. The three stamens are inserted near the mouth of the tube on free filaments. Two anthers are bithecous, one is monothecous with triplicate thecae containing tricolporate, reticulate, and medium-sized pollen (polar axis 52-80 µm, equatorial axis 53-78 µm, (Khunwasi 1998)). The ovary is ellipsoid with many horizontal ovules. The style is fleshy, c. 8 mm long with three stigmata. The fruit is globular to ellipsoid, smooth, up to 4 cm long and 2.5 cm across, ripening red. The many seeds are imbedded in yellowish pulp, compressed, ellipsoid to oblong. The testa is slightly sculptured, with broad, flattened margin.

The two species grow along forest margins, in secondary forest and bushland in tropical West Africa.

The genus is placed in the tribe Benincaseae near Melothria, but its exact position is still unclear (Schaefer et al. 2019, Schaefer & Renner 2011).

Accepted species

Ruthalicia eglandulosa (Hook.f.) C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 15: 361. 1961 (publ. 1962).
Ruthalicia longipes (Hook.f.) C. Jeffrey, Kew Bull. 15: 360. 1961 (publ. 1962).


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.