Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the April 17, 2011 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Last week I introduced you to some "little orange cucumber-thingies" found along the road south of Pisté. What I didn't say then was that, amazingly, intermingled with the dry, leafless remains of that orange-fruited Cayaponia vine was yet a second dead, dry, leafless, non-woody, viny species with tendrils, and fruits developed from inferior ovaries -- another member of the Cucumber Family -- but this vine bore little GREEN-SPECKLED cucumber-thingies, as shown below:


A longitudinal section of the cucumbery fruit appears below:

DOYEREA EMETOCATHARTICA, longitudinal section

Finding two strange, seldom seen members of the Cucumber Family -- the only ones of these kinds noticed along the whole road -- twining within one another in the same spot just seemed too unlikely. And yet, there they were, and who knows how to explain it?

This second species was even more poorly known to science than last week's Cayaponia racemosa. It was DOYEREA EMETOCATHARTICA, documented from dry forests in southern Mexico, Guatemala, the Caribbean and northern South America -- and now we know also here in the Yucatán. An unusual feature of this Cucumber-like plant is that its base is much swollen, looking almost like the trunk of a tree, and its stems are succulently thick and fleshy. It's also somewhat unusual that the plant is flowering here in the dry season when its climbing stems are leafless.

With a species name like emetocathartica -- emetics being used to induce vomiting, and cathartics employed for purging the bowels -- you'd expect the plant to be of medicinal value. However, I can find no reference to that. In fact, there's very little information about this peculiar vine at all, so, once again, we're doing a good deed for the botanical world just by posting our pictures and what little information we have about it here.