General: Sprawling or occasionally climbing annual creepers with woody rootstocks, rough, hairy stems and spirally coiled tendrils.
Leaves: Deeply to shallowly lobed single leaves.
Flowers: The male and female flowers occur mostly on the same plant. 5-merous.
Fruit: The small cucumber-like fruits are oval to roundish, smooth or with fleshy prickles or spines.
Toxin in fruit only and increases on ripening.
• Cucurbitacin A-L (and related compounds).
• Tetracyclic triterpenes (C 30 - compounds) and glycosides which are known as bitter principles (bitterstowwe).
• Extremely bitter - to protect plants against herbivores.
Gastro-intestinal and respiratory systems.
Large intake: Collapse and sudden death without notable symptoms. Lower intake: Diarrhoea, polypnoea.
Large intake: Lung oedema. Lower intake: Severe catarrhal to pseudomembraneous enteritis. Haemorrhages into lumen of g.i.t. Large amounts of typical seeds in g.i.t.
Treatment: Symptomatic and supportive. Avoidance: Avoid excessive intake. Supply enough food and water before sending animals into the veld.
Colour photos. Final web-ready size: JPEG, 72 ppi. Photo 1: 9.8 kb; Photo 2: 85.6 kb; Photo 3: 16.6 kb; Photo 4: 17.1 kb. Original TIFF file housed at the Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences, Section Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Pretoria.