Public Service #5: The Olympic-Dive-Propagation of the Self-Cloning Native Gourd

Cucurbita foetidissima: Buffalo Gourd/Coyote Melon/Calabasilla.

It is well documented that this aggressive perennial native squash-vine can increase its numbers by layering (or "spreading" by "runners") of its long, above-ground stems.  Like a strawberry, but not really.  And meaner.

 Here are some pictures that betray how the plant seems to do this not accidentally (where the stem may touch the ground randomly) but deliberately:  the tip of its long stems make a very purposeful poke into the soil.  Note how this particular shoot's leaves are reduced and there is a nacent root forming before it has reached the actual soil.  I am not sure how the plant determines at what point these growth tips do this: after many feet (6-20' or more) of trailing along the ground like a great crazy snake, it moves in slow-motion-mimicry of a dolfin,  rearing up a bit only to point immediately downward and dive into the surface.

Boom.  More plants.




Here, the tip forces a root into the soil, and the tip turns upward again back to unfurl more leaves, and will form its own new perennial plant if there is enough time before the frost.  A little like a starfish, a little scary.  Brilliant self-cloning technique on behalf of this monster plant, considered a "weed" by some, and "just plain cool" by others that know there is a place for every plant.

Note the small white bump issuing from from bent-angle bit of the stem.


(Plant pictured is in the Cactus"Arboretum" of Timberline Gardens, Arvada.)

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