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Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.


Perennial herb; tuber large; occasionally temporarily dioecious. Stem: ± scabrous or hairy, glabrous in age; tendril branched. Leaf: ± round, ± cordate, ± 5–7-lobed. Inflorescence: staminate flowers in racemes or panicles (or 1 flower per node early); pistillate flower 1 per node, generally at same nodes as staminate. Flower: sepals 0; staminate flower 3–15 mm wide, rotate to cup-shaped, white to cream or yellow-green; stamens fused, anthers twisted together; stigma (pistillate flowers) 1, ± hemispheric. Fruit: capsule, irregular-dehiscent from tip, ± symmetric, 3–20 cm, spheric to ovate or oblong, ± prickly, beak << body or 0. Seed: 1–many, generally > 1 cm, ± ovate, ± flat.
7 species: western North America. (Hebrew: bitter, from taste of all parts) [Borchert 2006 Ecol Res 21:641–650]
Unabridged references: [Nicholls & Bohm 1982 J Nat Prod 45:453–454; Schlising 1969 Amer J Bot 56:552–561]
Unabridged note: Sometimes included in Echinocystis.

Key to Marah

1. Corolla rotate, yellow-green to cream or white; ovary, fruit ± spheric, prickles sparse to ± dense, ± stiff, unhooked ..... M. fabacea

1' Corolla ± cup-shaped, white; ovary, fruit generally not spheric, prickles sparse to dense, stiff or flexible, hooked or not

2. Staminate flowers generally < 8 mm wide; herbage glaucous; ovary, fruit ± spheric, prickles sparse to dense, flexible, generally hooked; seeds 1–4, ± spheric ..... M. watsonii

2' Staminate flowers generally > 8 mm wide; herbage not glaucous; ovary, fruit ovate to oblong or tapered to beak, prickles generally dense, stiff or flexible, unhooked; seeds generally 3–24, disk-shaped to ovoid or oblong

3. Ovary, fruit ± spheric, tapered to beak, often striped dark green, prickles sparse to dense, flexible; seeds generally 3–6, disk-shaped, ± flat — Northwestern California, San Francisco Bay Area ..... M. oregana

3' Ovary, fruit oblong, generally not tapered to beak, not striped green, prickles ± dense, stiff; seeds generally > 6, ovoid to oblong, occasionally flat at 1 end

4. Corolla deeply cup-shaped; seeds flat at 1 end; c&s Sierra Nevada Foothills, Tehachapi Mountain Area ..... M. horrida

4' Corolla shallowly cup-shaped; seeds not flat at 1 end; Southwestern California, Sonoran Desert ..... M. macrocarpa


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
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