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.
Under the Cronquist system, the first four families (including Begoniaceae, Cucurbitaceae, and Datiscaceae),were placed in the order Violales, within the Dilleniidae, with the Tetramelaceae subsumed within the Datiscaceae. The other families were distributed throughout various orders. The present classification is due to APG II (2003).
* W. S. Judd, C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens, M. J. Donoghue (2002). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, 2nd edition. pp. 380-382 (Cucurbitales). Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-87893-403-0.
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