Research Article

Variation in morphology and yield traits of Cucurbita landraces in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 34, issue 5, 2017, pages: 389–397
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.2017.1319506
Author(s): Nontuthuko R NtuliDepartment of Botany, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, South Africa, Rufaro M MadakadzeAfrican Crop Improvement Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Kenya, Alpheus M ZoboloDepartment of Botany, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, South Africa

Abstract

Pumpkins, represented by various Cucurbita species, are important traditional leafy vegetable crops that are widely eaten in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and elsewhere. Cucurbita landraces are exceptionally variable in morphology and productivity. Although these vegetables are grown extensively in South Africa, the quantitative traits of local pumpkin germplasm have not been recorded previously. Eight Cucurbita landraces, representing three species, were morphologically characterised. The variability among the landraces was significantly different for all assessed traits. The ranges recorded were: the number of lateral branches, 9.1–26.8; number of pistillate flowers, 7.0–47.6; number of staminate flowers, 73.8–169.5; number of fruit set, 0.1–1.1; number of fruit harvested, 0.3–17.0; number of fully developed seeds per fruit, 330–423; fruit mass, 3.5–5.0 kg; 100-seed mass, 10.7–14.7 g; and total seed mass, 48.3–70.2 g. The fruit length varied from 27.4 to 38.6 cm and diameter from 51.8 to 68.5 cm. Future research is desirable to improve the productivity selectively of these particular landraces. Diversity among these landraces could potentially form the basis for future breeding programmes and thereby contribute significantly towards hunger alleviation, nutritional benefits and income generation, particularly among rural people.

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