Scientific Name: Tumamoca macdougalii
Common Names: Tumamoc globeberry
Growth Habit: Forb/herb vine
Arizona Native Status: Native
Habitat: Dry soil among rocks and along washes below 3,000 feet
Flower Color: Pale yellow to greenish yellow
Flowering Season: July to August
Height: Vines can stretch to 9 feet
Description: Tumamoc globeberry is a member of the gourd family and grows from a tuberous root that remains only partially underground. The plant stays dormant during winter and early spring, with its primary growth a result of the summer monsoon rains. The leaves are heavily lobed, with three main lobes containing two secondary lobes, giving the plant a lacy look. Its tendrils climb up the foliage of other plants and its leaves give off a rotten smell when touched. Yet Tumamoc globeberry produces a small fruit resembling a watermelon, which can be made into a jam.
Tumamoc globeberry occurs only in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. In Arizona it is found in extreme southern Pinal and Maricopa counties and throughout Pima county. This plant's flowers are pollinated at night by moths. Its seeds are eaten by birds including cardinals, thrashers, Gila woodpeckers, and Gambel's quail. Javelinas also dig up the roots and eat them for their moisture content. Tumamoc globeberry grows in the shade of nurseplants in the desert. It is difficult to cultivate.
Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Data Management System. azgfd.com/w_c/edits/documents/Tumamacd.fi_001.pdf
Original illustration by Paul Mirocha.