Although the calabazilla’s flowers are said to have a sweet, pleasant smell, its leaves are malodorous, especially when crushed.
A common plant in deserts and other sandy places in Southern California, the calabazilla ( Cucurbita foetidissima ) is a member of the gourd family.
Its large, yellow flowers are trumpet-shaped and up to 3 inches across. They have five united petals and are almost hidden under the foot-long, gray-green, funnel-shaped leaves, which are rough to the touch and grow on trailing vines that may stretch 20 feet along the ground.
Calabazillas are in bloom from now through September.
The plant’s spherical-shaped fruits are dry, smooth inedible gourds with edible seeds, striped pale green and dark green when immature, lemon yellow when ripe. The gourds are dried and often painted for decorative use.
Calabazillas have large carrot-shaped roots that can weigh several hundred pounds. The roots were used by the Indians as a purgative and in the making of soap. Spanish women used the gourds as darning balls.
Foetidissima means “very evil-smelling.” Calabazilla also is called stinking gourd.