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Buffalo Gourd
Cucurbita foetidissima

A spreading perennial vine with large, long triangular leaves and bright yellow flowers with stems 5-25 feet long trail along the ground. Flowers from May through August. Found in dry disturbed areas, waste places, roadsides, ditches, and fence lines, commonly in sandy or gravelly soils.  Produces a 3-4 inch round gourd with yellow and green stripes. The gourd is extremely bitter. Also known as: wild gourd, Missouri gourd, coyote gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, or fetid gourd, because of the strong odor of the leaves (foetidissima).

Cucurbita foetidissima
  • The Omaha, Osage, Ponca, and Dakota attributed mystical and medicinal powers to the root. Their names refer to it as "strong medicine" and "pumpkin medicine". Special care was taken when unearthing the root, for it was believed that an injury to the root would lead to injury of oneself or one's family members.

  • Some Apache groups used a warm mixture of pulverized stems, leaves and roots to treat sores on horses.

  • The root can grow to enormous proportions. It will descend 4 to 6 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds. A root weighing 178 pounds has actually been recorded!

  • The gourds were sometimes made into ceremonial and children's rattles.



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