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Plant: Aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus)

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cana
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Plant: Aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus)

Unread postby cana » Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:24 pm

Hello,

I am living in France and i am passionate by Cucurbits plant family.
I would like to know if someone heared about Aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus Stent).This unusual cucumber species bear underground fruits like a peanut.Fruits are eaten,at night,during the dry period by aardvark.

I am looking for seeds of this species...not easy to find.

If you can help me,do not hesitate to contact me!

Thanks a lot in advance!

p.s.: I visited 2 South-Africa for its flora,fauna and wonderfull peoples!

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DuQues
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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Dec 14, 2005 4:51 pm

Anyone?
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Unread postby Imberbe » Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:50 pm

Now I have learnt something! It is the first time that I have heard that Aardvark eat anything but ants and termites. I checked your facts in my mammal books and you are correct. It actually mentions that they do eat the seeds of the "aardvark pumpkin". :D

I could not find the plant in any of my books. Do you have a photo? Any info on the plant? Are there a source book in which I can find more info on this plant?

Thanks!
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Unread postby Jakkalsbessie » Thu Dec 15, 2005 8:01 am

Hi cana and welcome to the forum!

Some more info:
Order : VIOLALES
Family : CUCURBITACEAE
Genus : Cucumis
Taxon : Cucumis humifructus Stent

Cucumis humifructus (Stent), or the aardvark cucumber as it is known in South Africa is a remarkable plant. Not only is it the only known member of the Cucurbitaceae that fruits underground, but it appears to have an exclusive, symbiotic relationship with the aardvark.
The aardvark locates the underground fruits and uncovers them, tearing the fruit open with its claws and extracting the juicy fruit pulp and seeds with its long, sticky tongue.
After defecating, the aardvark buries its dung. This is an ideal arrangement from the plant's point of view as it ensures that its seed is "planted" in a nutritious medium.
The seeds then germinate during the rainy season.

From the small number of herbarium collections, it appears that the aardvark cucumber is widely distributed over the African continent. Collections have been made in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Zaire, Kenya and Ethiopia.
The suspicion is however that the distribution of the aardvark cucumber overlaps with that of the aardvark and that the plant will be found wherever there are suitable aardvark habitats.
In South Africa, where the aardvark has been classified as a vulnerable species, aardvark cucumbers are presently regarded as rare and endangered (so IMHO think it will be difficult to obtain seeds :wink: )

Maybe you should contact the Botanical Society of South Africa here

Or the South African National Biodiversity Institute here

I'm sure someone there will be able to assist you!

Please let us now if you find out anything :lol:
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Unread postby francoisd » Thu Dec 15, 2005 8:51 am

Jakkalsbessie wrote:Hi cana and welcome to the forum!

8 months after the fact :lol:
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cana
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re:

Unread postby cana » Thu Dec 15, 2005 2:31 pm

Hello again,

I crossed some problems to loging.

Thanks Jakkal. for Cucumis humifructus Stent description.All is true.I'm well documented on the subject.Of course, the species is endangered in RSA but is widely distributed in southern and Eastern Africa.
I already contacted various Botanical gardens of RSA,the species is not present in their collections.So ,no seeds...

most of them told me that it will not be easy to find seeds.
In fact,where aardvark hole are present,chance to find the plant around is high. :D

My only chance to find seeds is somebody of the group who knows well aardvark place;Especialy in Transvaal.

Fruits can be deeply buried in soil,and size of gelatinous skin fruit is like the small orange .

Keep me in touch if you hear about it.

Thanks again to alls for your help and message.

best regards from France!

Jean-Luc

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Unread postby Imberbe » Thu Dec 15, 2005 10:28 pm

If you guys could post a photo of the plant I can have a look around since I have access to an area where there are quite a lot of aardvark activity. We just might be lucky! :wink:
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cana
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Unread postby cana » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:28 am

Hello,

I did not have any color photos,only black and white print from and 2 photos from an old document.I will try to take numeric pics and will post them.

This plant is easely recognizable by his leaves,large and similar like common cucumber.It's a robust trailing stem species totaly different than others wild cucumber.Leaves are long and large,obovate or round.And flower look like common cucumber in size and color.female stalk become elongated with the futur fruit at the base. After,you can see only pedoncule of fruit .The rest is in the soil like a peanut!
Growth is very quick,as Jeremy Hollmann description in an old 'Veldt and Flora' magazine.(1993?) .

If you live in a aardvark area,please have a look for me.May be the plant is present!Keep me in touch! :D

Thanks!

Jean-luc

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Unread postby Pilane » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:14 pm

Imberbe wrote:If you guys could post a photo of the plant I can have a look around since I have access to an area where there are quite a lot of aardvark activity. We just might be lucky! :wink:


And then? Disturb an area where an endangered/ rare plant occurs?
Or even worse... remove the plant and or seeds??

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Unread postby cana » Mon Dec 19, 2005 8:28 pm

Don't panic! :? It's quite easy to find living plant with fruits without disturb the aardvark life activity.They have a nocturnal activity and I suppose that the plant grows so far from the aardvark hole.
And may be it's easier to have a look on aardvark dung.These seeds are large and flat like a pumpkin seeds.
Thanks! :D

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Unread postby Pilane » Mon Dec 19, 2005 11:53 pm

I is illegal to disturb or pick seeds from an endagered/ rare plant (or to have any part theroff in ones posession) in South Africa. (R5000+ fine) (I wasn't worried about the aardvark at all, their senses way too sharp to be dusturbed by a human)

Aardvarrk dung doesn't just lay around. It is normally found at the entrance to the hole under the sand as the aardvark covers it as it clears the hole of loose sand when returning to the hole.

Now for the interesting part. The hole is occupied by a warthog... and you look for dung.... Guess what happens next.
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cana
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Unread postby cana » Sat Dec 24, 2005 1:08 pm

I understanding your position regarding endangered status of both aarvark and cucumis.
Of course,the goal is to not disturb the area,but just have look around.
Remember: protection and conservation pass through propagation and distribution of seeds.

So,if anyone cross the plant or have any infos,you can contact me to jlgate@caramail.com.

Thanks in advance.Merry Christams and all the best to you for 2006

Cana

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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sun Jan 08, 2006 1:35 am

Pilane wrote:
Imberbe wrote:If you guys could post a photo of the plant I can have a look around since I have access to an area where there are quite a lot of aardvark activity. We just might be lucky! :wink:


And then? Disturb an area where an endangered/ rare plant occurs?
Or even worse... remove the plant and or seeds??


You forget that not all plants grow in conservation areas. Quite often these areas are plowed to make space for crops!
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparkshr.org


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Re: Aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus)

Unread postby Blougansie » Sat May 23, 2009 2:52 am

Hello , I can tell you but then I'll have to shoot you - so make discretion the better part of valour, or something like that. There was research done in South Africa on this specific plant and you can find it on the web at this address : http://www.plantzafrica.com/veldflora/1995/aardv1.htm

I hope you find the article as interesting as I have - there's even a small picture of the seed and plant (that may be found in the Vaalwater area)

:hmz: Ok thanks

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Re: Aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus)

Unread postby onewithnature » Sat May 23, 2009 3:33 am

That's amazing, Blougansie! Thanks for the info :thumbs_up:
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