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A Desert Wonder.

Among the discoveries made by the botanists who accompanied Stanley in his African expedition was one of peculiar interest, and particularly striking, although it is vary improbable whether it can ever be made of any use, as the climate of Equatorial Africa cannot be exported to other parts of the world, and without that climate it is very doubtful whether this gigantic fruit can be produced other than where it grows iudigcnously. Its discoveries have named it Cucurbitn. Rayina vtr Jiscidmta. This peculiar plant, ,as its name signifies, belongs to the pumpkin family, and is found in Equatorial Africa, in the locality of the great Nyanza lakes, and along the base of the Baleggar Mountain's. It is an annual, being produced from seed, has vines and foliage similar in form and texture to the ordinary pumpkin (Cucuibitimcxima) although pertaining to the habit of the "mpeloiicyos scandem from its climbing habit. The leaves which are flabellate, measure from 6 to 7 feet across, and its enormous vines or runners were from 12 to 18 inches in circumfeTence, entwining round the stems and branches, of trees to the height of 80 to 100 feet, and \ in _ some instances to a much greater ! height; its enormous blossoms, measuring from 4 to 5 feet in diameter, belonged, like those of the pumpkins of domestic use, to the order Si ngenesia, having the. stamens united by their anthers. Tho pollen, which fell in quantities to the ground, was in some places several inches deep, and like a bed of fine sawdust. The fruit was of most gigantic dimensions, measuring from 10 to 30 feet in circumference, of a mottled green, and i when fully developed weighing from scwt Ito lOcwt. They mostly rested in, and were supported by, the forks and branches of the trees, but in some instances might be seen hanging from their vines, which were entwined round, the limbs of tho trees, and woe betide the unfortunate man or beast who might be standing or lying beneath it whejn ripe enough to fall to earth ; although in most cases they rot on the Ntern, after having attained ample ripeness. Those which grow within tha reach of man or animal are consumed as food, being highly esteemed by the natives,' and some of the smaller of the ' squirrel and monkey tribes who bore into them in search of the seeds, winch weigh from 8 to 12 ounces each, are very sweet, and highly farinaceous, forming a grateful article of diet alike for man and boast. Mr 0. X, Joffij, who is secretary to, the Qnehunga Horticultural Society, has been promised one or more seeds from a friend in Wanganui, who lias had some sent to him.

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Bibliographic details

A Desert Wonder., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2423, 7 May 1890

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A Desert Wonder. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2423, 7 May 1890