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Ciictirbitacee

species and plants

CIICTIRBITA'CEE, a natural order of exogenous plants, consisting chiefly of herba ceous plants, natives of the warmer regions of the globe, having succulent stems which climb by means of lateral tendrils. There are some shrubby species. The fruit (prpo) is peculiar; it is more or less succulent, has a thick fleshy rind, and the seed bearing parietal placentm either surrounding a central cavity, &sending prolongations inwards. The seeds are flat and ovate, embedded in a sort of pulp. which is either dry of juicy.— This order contains about 300 species, very many which yield fruits much used for food in warm climates, and some of them are cultivated in colder regions as articles of luxury. The fruit of some attains a very large size. To this order belong the cucum ber, melon, gourd (of many kinds), pumpkin, squash, vegetable marrow, bottle gourd, etc. The young shoots and leaves of many species are also used as pot-herbs; and the

roots of some abound in a bland fecula, and are edible, as those of momordiea dioiea and bryonia umbellata, East Indian plants. Yet acridity is a prevailing characteristic, of which the spirting cucumber (see ELATERTUM) of the s. of Europe, and the common bry ony (q.v.) are examples. These are not without their use in medicine, but still more important is the colocynth (q.v.).—Among the more interesting species of this order is hodgsonia heterodita, a gigantic species, which is found in the Himalaya mountains, ascending to an elevation of 5,000 feet. The seeds of some C. are used as almonds, and yield oil by expression, as those of telfairiapedata, an African plant. Bryonia dioiea is the only British species, and does not extend to Scotland.