Okeechobee Gourd

1930 CEFlorida

Okeechobee Gourd "is a wetland gourd, growing fairly commonly as a vine in the bottomlands of the St. John's River and the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. It grew and reproduced in perfect synch with the natural hydrologic cycle of its habitat. Gourd seeds probably germinated during the dry season, when lower water levels exposed rich swampy soils. Over the summer, the heart-shaped leaves and cream-colored flowers covered the pond apple trees, which were natural trellises for wild gourds . . . As of 1930, at least 95% of the pond apple forests where this species once commonly occurred had been destroyed for agriculture and water-level regulation. This species is now found only in two disjunct populations, threatened with continued water-level regulation practices and invasion of its habitat by non-native invasive species."

"Plant Profile: Okeechobee Gourd (Cucurbita okeechobeensis ssp. okeechobeensis)," Center for Plant Conservation.

Image: Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons