Thwaites Zehneria
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Thwaites Zehneria
P Native Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
Common name: Thwaites Zehneria
Botanical name: Zehneria thwaitesii    Family: Cucurbitaceae (Pumpkin family)
Synonyms: Zehneria tridactyla, Melothria zeylanica, Cucumella thwaitesii

Thwaites Zehneria is a slender climbing herb with annual stems arising from a perennial rootstock. It is named for George Henry Kendrick Thwaites (1812-1882), English botanist. Leaves are variable, ovate to triangular in outline, sometimes more or less 3-lobed, finely rough above and on the veins below; margin entire or with a few small teeth. Flowers arise solitary, unisexual on the same plant, white fading to cream. Female flowers are solitary on slender 7-40 mm. long flower-stalks; ovary spindle-shaped, sometimes slightly collared at the base, 3.5-16 mm. long, 0.5–1.5 mm across; receptacle-tube cylindrical to broadly bell-shaped, 1–2.5 mm long; lobes subulate, 0.5-1.5 mm long; petals 2-6 mm long, 1.5-2.5 mm broad, united at very base. Male flowers are 1-3, in leaf-axils, or at nodes on 3-10 cm. long leafless shoots with shortened internodes and then appearing racemose; flower-stalks slender, 4.5-15 mm. long; receptacle-tube bell-shaped, 1.5–2 mm. long; lobes triangular-subulate, 0.3–0.8 mm. long. Petals are white, becoming cream when older, 2–4 mm. long, 1–2 mm. broad, united at the base; stamens 3, nearly stalkless. Fruits are 1.5-4.5 cm long, spindle-shaped, red when ripe. Thwaites Zehneria is found in Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in Vagavurrai (enroute Munnar), Kerala.

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