According to A.A. Schaffer (2016)
The gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, encompasses over 900 species of plants known collectively as gourds or cucurbits. This article reviews the botany, horticulture, and food value of cucurbits, with emphasis on the three leading genera. Cucumis sans (cucumbers, melons), Cucurbita pepo (pumpkins, squash), and Citrullus meta (watermelons), rank among the top 10 in economic importance among the vegetable crops of the world, and several others have regional importance. Cucurbits are also grown for use as ornaments and containers, and some are used for medicinal applications and other purposes. Some wild cucurbits have potential economic values.
In this article, The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food, and also they have a natural distribution pattern of most species is in the tropics but some genera contain species that are distributed in temperate regions. Most of the plants are tropical and sub-tropical In cultivation, cucurbits are distributed in almost all regions worldwide. Those cucurbits that are not adapted to cool temperatures and that are grown for their mature fruits and seeds are usually not successful in regions with short, cool summers. Others, most notably cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and summer squash (Cucurbita pepo),are grown for their immature fruits and are more tolerant of cool temperatures than most cucurbits, and therefore have an especially wide distribution in cultivation. Cultivated cucurbits have spread through trade and exploration from their respective Old and New World centers of origin to the six arable continents and are important in local, regional and world trade. Cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squash and gourd, and watermelon comprise the major cucurbits. Cucurbits can play an important role in dietary health. They are low in nutritional value, but can be significant dietary sources of vitamins and minerals. Some cucurbits, such as bitter gourd, have medicinal properties. Cucurbits are generally prized for their delicious fruits, which can be sweet, bitter or aromatic, and may be highly perishable or stored for months with little change in quality. The seeds are good sources of vegetable oil and protein. Gourd shells may be used for storage containers, or as musical instruments. The cultivated cucurbits have been greatly improved by plant breeders using conventional plant breeding techniques for more than 100 years, rapidly advancing molecular technologies are being applied to cucurbits to ensure sustainable production, improve fruit quality and shelf life, and develop novel fruit types. Some wild cucubits have potential economic values relative of watermelon, productivity is enhanced during dry, sunny periods and reduced during periods of excessive rainfall and high humidity. It is suitable for production in marginal growing areas. The fruits are extremely bitter, but the seeds are can be removed and roasted as an edible commodity The seeds are rich in oils, which can be extracted for cooking purposes, and the seeds can also be ground into a powder and used as a soup thickener or flavoring agent. Most cucurbit species are mesophytes or a plant needing only a moderate amount of water and have large leaves, fibrous roots, and prominent fruits. Under favorable conditions, the plants grow and spread quickly, or more within 24 hours the foliage can be softly or stiffly hairy, or spiculate. The plants usually are monoecious or a plant having both the male and female reproductive organs in the same individual that is, have separate staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers on the same plant. Most often, the flowers are nectar-producing and foraged by bees, with green calices consisting of five sepals fused at the base and yellow corollas consisting of five petals fused at the base. However, once differentiated, the pistillate flowers can develop at a faster rate than the staminate flowers.