Cucurbita lundelliana x ficifolia

Today the first female flowers appeared on C. Ficifolia here. Hopefully time enough to get seed for next year. The first time I grew a strain that was even more day length sensitive, I think it flowered late October. I was chatting with someone recently that has a strain that already has mature fruit. Would love to get ahold of this kind. Ficifolia has always seemed interesting to me, being the most divergent of the 5 cultivated species. If it was more heat tolerant and not vulnerable to vine borers it would be great here. When I grew it in an area with Epilachna, the lady bug like bean/cucumber beetles, it was even more resistant than maxima/moschata.

Cucurbita lundelliana could remedy these issues, giving both borer resistance and heat tolerance. Most importantly the hybrid is fertile and not a dead end. I have one seedling with the first male flowers about to appear in the next couple days. Lundelliana is bitter, but edible. I have no more seed if this one fails, so I’ll keep it indoors under lights in winter.

Of course this cross wouldn’t be the ultimate squash for taste. But you could cross in maxima types or pepo types if you wanted to go in those directions. For me its most interesting from a resilience point of view—resisting insects, disease, hot, cold, able to climb trees. Hybrids of domestic x lundelliana also have strong hybrid vigor at 40+ squash per plant.

4 Likes

I’ve just been thinking about crosses between Cucurbita argyosperma and C. moschata, which led me to a pretty short overview of a relevant project.

Maybe folks here are already familiar with it, but they followed interspecific crosses for several years, until lines were stabilized: Development of Advanced Interspecific-bridge Lines among Cucurbita pepo, C. maxima, and C. moschata in: HortScience Volume 47 Issue 4 (2012)

(Where are these seeds now?)

My impression is that the first and second generation crosses are the speed bump. Would a backyard gardener without an interest in embryo rescue or other more intensive techniques be able to overcome the first two years of limited fertility via strength in numbers? If you cross a large enough population, can one avoid having to do any seed surgery?

Maybe crosses with ficifolia or lundelliana would be enough to avoid that issue

edit: I didn’t understand at first that the name ‘ficifolliana’ was a deliberate spelling. Now I get it. Nice!

Yes it would be great to have a multi species bridge line. To create one, it sounds like it would be easier using the wide cross compatibilty of lundelliana, despite having to select out bitterness. My friend suggested calling such a bridge line that can link all 5 cultivated species the “mother of all land races.” Lundelliana has already been used to bring in resistances to pepo and I think the bush habit into moschata from pepo. These end up being inbred introgression lines and probably lost the wide cross compatibility. I was going to cross Joseph’s maximoss to lundelliana but a groundhog or something just ate the last developing female flowers this year. This would be a fun route too.

I’m not sure ficifolliana is the best name, it’s so close to ficifiolia. Regardless of the name, I hope to make the cross in the next week or so.


Today the first male and first female flower of lundelliana opened. I was able to make reciprocal pollinations with ficifolia. I’m not sure there will be enough time for the fruit to mature, so I’ll be keeping the ends of the vines with the developing hybrid seed off the ground and start to root them in pots. When frost comes I’ll prune off the layered vine with fruit and put it under lights inside. That’s the plan anyway. After getting the F1s it will be necessary to make the back cross to a ficifolia seed parent in order to capture most of the domestic qualities. Regardless of day length sensitivity, ficifolia will not hold female flowers here until cool mid September weather. I may need a collaborator in a more ficifolia friendly climate to help with the next generation.

Embryo rescue might be pretty easy with squash seeds, actually. They’re so big, and the outer coat is quite soft, with a ridge that can easily be nail clipped open all around the edges without damaging the embryo in the least.

It’s even easier to do that if you presoak the seeds for a few hours first. The outer coat becomes very soft and malleable that way. You can nail clip it and remove one side entirely with your fingers without touching the embryo.

I suspect that may be all you’d need to do for an embryo that needs extra help.

That’s what I did with my 50-year-old ficifolia seeds this year, and I got an 11/20 germination rate. Really good for such old seeds. (If only the roly polies and earwigs hadn’t eaten all the seedlings. But they did germinate!)

3 Likes

I may end up having to do that Emily. Thanks for the encouragement! I hear ficifolia seed takes a long time to mature after harvest.

1 Like

Currently the weather is good here and im hopeful I can harvest one fruit with the F1 seeds. Groundhogs however took one of the small lundelliana fruit. These are very bitter too. I made a little cover of the other fruit with chicken wire.

The is my first year getting ficifolia fruit. Not too bad as a zuchinni. Impressively strong growing at this time of year.

Ooh, cool, what did ficifolia taste like as a summer squash?

Mild, bland. Nice texture, slightly different. No rich nutty flavors of a great pepo but enjoyable in a sauce.

One week from today will be 30 days since pollination of the first fruit. Lundelliana female flowers are 100% for accepting ficifolia pollen, as the literature suggested. There are 5 other fruits in various stages of development. There will be two nights of 35F the beginning of next week.

My bigger worry is that the sun angle dipped and now has 90% of the plant in heavy shade. It gets just a few hours a day of sun now. Regardless of frost I’m thinking of cutting the vines soon and putting them under lights, as the two branches are already rooted in pots. Otherwise with the heavy shade the aphids etc are going to start hammering the leaves.

This vine has been rooted in this pot for like a month, it didn’t seem to wilt from cutting it off. It has a few fruit on it and is under lights now. If all goes well I should have a good amount of lundelliana x ficifolia seed with some fruits OP so probably also have some x maximos seed in there.

1 Like

Managed to get a lundelliana fruits pollinated by ficifolia (maybe some x maxmoss too). Can’t wait to crack these open and soak the corky seed next year and attempt the back cross to ficifolia. The first backcross will act pretty much like ficifiolia, the domestic cytoplasm is important.

The little ficifolia fruits in the photo have been there for 1 month with no apparent degradation.

1 Like

Today I opened the first (most underdeveloped) fruit with the F1 seeds. It’s impressive how lundelliana really has no problem making F1 fruits with fully filled seeds.

Next season I think I’ll do two controlled crosses with these, some to x maximoss and some back to ficifolia. Which direction would you go with them ?

Would you be interested in growing Moschata with it for hopes it would cross pollinate? If so, what Moschata varieties do you already have? I could send you a diverse selection of Moschata seeds and perhaps grown together something will happen.

Another idea might be to cross it with centercut squash from row 7 seeds. It’s an improved tromboncino Moschata bred for immature taste. Maybe the centercut brings the taste and your seeds bring strength. Maybe after a while, the mixture — if successful — would make a winner in taste and yield in low input settings.

Just PM me if you would like to try my seeds on your project.

The tromboncino would be a great contribution I think, especially since I’m planning to use it as a storable zucchini like ficifiolia. I didn’t know about the centercut, that sounds pretty perfect. Maybe a storable immature trombincino type could be selected from it. I suspect there is good potential for this because the underdeveloped Lundelliana fruit I harvested also stored very well. Looking forward to trying this cross next year!

Hi, all. This is your moschata/maxima squash steward, Debbie. Sorry to break into the conversation, but I’d like to gauge interest in interspecies squash hybrids. If you have a moment, please comment here:

Thanks!

Hi, Debbie. I am very interested in crossed max x mos. I tried last year to cross between the species, starting by planting both together in the same patch. I’ll find out in a few months whether any are successful.

THANK YOU! For such Valuable Info! Imagine how long seeds can stay Viable & Still germinate if stored in Metal Boxes or Mylar Bags in a cool dark place. I feel like we’ve been mislead by germination rates, also don’t old seeds take longer to germinate? How long did yours take from sowing? a month?

Wait!? Groundhogs took the bitter fruit!? Bruh does that ground hog want to die? Or is the Cucurbitacin bitterness not enough?

AMAZING! Also have you tried the Mentor Pollination Technique? Where you just mix pollens from Multiple Cucurbita species onto one female flower, thus forcing Incompatible Pollen to be accepted? Ivan Michurin was able to Cross Pyrus x Sorbus.

Also if you open a Squash fruit & Find different Seed Sizes & Colors, is that evidence for Successful hybridization? Especially when Mentor Pollination Technique was Used?

They germinated in about a week to two weeks, which is pretty normal for cucurbits!

1 Like

Not all cucurbitican is super toxic, there’s more than a dozen different groups. Normal cucumbers have small amounts of a safe-ish form. Likely the one on C. lundelliana is ok in small amounts.

1 Like