The Cucurbitales are an order of flowering plants, included in the rosid group of dicotyledons. This order mostly belongs to tropical areas, with limited presence in subtropic and temperate regions. The order includes various shrubs and trees, together with many herbs and climbers.
One of major characteristics of the Cucurbitales is the presence of unisexual flowers, mostly pentacyclic, with thick pointed petals (whenever present) (Matthews and Endress, 2004). The pollination is usually performed by insects, but wind pollination is also present (in Coriariaceae and Datiscaceae).
The order consists of roughly 2300 species in seven families. The largest families are Begoniaceae with 1400 species and Cucurbitaceae with 825 species.
The large families of Cucurbitales include several economically important plants. Specifically, the Cucurbitaceae are responsible for some food species, such as squash, pumpkin (both from Cucurbita), watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris) and other melons, and cucumber (Cucumis). The Begoniaceae are known for their horticultural species, of which there are over 130.
Cucurbitaceae is a plant family commonly known as melons, gourds or cucurbits and includes crops like cucumbers, squashes (including pumpkins), luffas, melons and watermelons. The family is predominantly distributed around the tropics, where those with edible fruits were amongst the earliest cultivated plants in both the Old and New Worlds.
Most of the plants in this family are annual vines but there are also woody lianas, thorny shrubs, and trees (Dendrosicyos). Many species have large, yellow or white flowers. The stems are hairy and pentangular. Tendrils are present at 90° to the leaf petioles at nodes. Leaves are exstipulate alternate simple palmately lobed or palmately compound. The flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers on different plants (dioecious) or on the same plant (monoecious). The female flowers have inferior ovaries. The fruit is often a kind of berry called a pepo.