To Joseph Decaisne1    24 April 1862


My dear Professor

After writing to you a hurried note by this mail2 & finishing my other engagements for it, I found a few spare moments to look over my Cucurbitaceae & to get a few notes copied & a few fragments selected for M. Naudins work. You will observe that the cucurbitaceous plants, known to me with certainty as Australian and which I collected myself in my various journeys are the following:

1.    Sicyos angulatus L

Extends from the Islands of Bass Straits and from Eastern Gipps Land to the tropic of Capricorn on the East Coast. —

2.     Trichosanthes olida msc.

Arnhems Land on barren ridges, scrambling amongst stones or bushes.

Of this and of most other species I sent you nearly 3 years ago good specimens pr overland mail accompanied by manuscripts. How they never reached you is an enigma to me.3 I can only forward you now of this a small fragment & of others not even as much, because I kept only one specimen of each after my return from North Australia4 and the others were sent to Kew, where Mr Naudin could see good material of each species. Indeed I think it would be very important for Mr Naudin to study the whole of the Kew collection for the sake of completing his work. The Trichosanthes olida is never published by me.5 The description was made on the spot of discovery. It will be easy for Mr Naudin to see whether this and the two other species are distinct from any of the Indian ones. — I had no good means of satisfying myself on that point.

3.    Trichosanthes pentaphylla msc.

From the Burdekin to the the Brisbane River on banks in shade. A tall plant, climbing up to trees. Description made on the spot of discovery, where I found however only the plant in an imperfect state.6

4.    Trichosanthes subvelutina (msc)

I know this plant only from the vicinity of Moreton Bay. It has the white fringed flowers of Trichosanthes, but I have unfortunately neither flowers nor fruits in our collection

5.    Lagenaria vulgaris Ser

Extends from East tropic Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Leichhardt notes the plant in his diary. I saw only the [Calabashes] of it with the natives.

6.    Bryonia laciniosa L

from the Clarence River to the Gulf of Carpentaria

7.    Zehneria Cunninghami msc.

I enclose some specimens, probably sufficient to establish the species, otherwise I will copy my manuscript notes of the plant from my journal.

8.    Muckia micrantha 7

F.M. fragm. phytogr. Austr. II, 180.8 Zehneria micrantha, fragm. 1, 182.9 plant indig. to Vic. tab xviii10 Cucurbita micrantha transact. phil Soc. Vict I, 17.11 from the Murray River to the Vicinity of Lake Torrens. There is a full description of the plant in the fragm.12

9.    Muckia scabrella Arn 13

Not rare in tropical Australia.

10.    Cucumis jucunda

F.M. transact. Vict. Inst. III p. 45.14

11.    Cucumis picrocarpa

F.M. l. c.

Of both I send an extract of the descriptions drawn up in Arnhems Land & published by the phil. Institute here. I can not say to what species C. pubescens Mitch trop. Austral 11415 belongs, probably to C. jucunda, as the natives of the Balonne used the fruit for food. To ascertain whether it is the true Cucumis pubescens I have here not sufficient reliable material.

In the journals of Leichhardt, Fr. Gregory & other explorers are references to a few other Cucurbitaceae of which I have seen no specimens. I doubt however that we will have large additions to the order from Australia. Muckia scabrella, Curcubita jucunda & a few other species grow to the limits of the tropics in W. Australia. To the south of Sharks Bay it seems no species exist in Western Australia; none is found in South Australia, except Muckia micrantha in the vicinity of Lake Torrens; In Victoria we have only Sicyos & Muckia micrantha. The majority of the species therefore exist mainly in North Australia and especially in the warmer parts of East Australia.



Ferd Mueller


Bryonia laciniosa

Cucumis jucunda

Cucumis picrocarpa

Cucumis pubescens

Cucurbita micrantha


Lagenaria vulgaris

Muckia micrantha

Muckia scabrella

Sicyos angulatus

Trichosanthes olida

Trichosanthes pentaphylla

Trichosanthes subvelutina

Zehneria Cunninghami

Zehneria micrantha

MS black edged; M's sister Bertha Doughty died on 7 September 1861.
M to J. Decaisne, 24 April 1862 (in this edition as 62-04-24e).
See M to J. Decaisne, 16 May 1859 (in this edition as 59-05-16d), 25 December 1861 (in this edition as 65-12-25c) and 26 September 1862 (in this edition as 62-09-26f).
i.e. from the North Australian Exploring Expedition, 1855-6.
M described the species in B63.13.03, p. 491, as T. cucumerina, remarking as he did so that on account of its 'remarkably strong and unpleasant scent' he had formerly called it T. olida.
T. pentaphylla was described in Bentham (1863-78), vol. 3, p. 314.
Mukia micrantha?
B61.13.07, p. 180.
B59.11.01, p. 182.
B65.13.04, t. 18.
B55.13.03, p. 17.
B59.11.01, p. 182.
Mukia scabrella Arn?
B59.13.02, p. 45.
Mitchell (1848), p. 114.

Please cite as “FVM-62-04-24,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021,