Shriveled Vined Miniature Pumpkin

Cucurbita pepo
Donated by Lindsey Henderson Kuka

Weight: 9.5 g
Diameter: 4 cm
Length (including vine): 7 cm

shrivelled miniature pumpkin with vine from stem

This specimen was a miniature pumpkin displayed to commemorate the fall harvest/Halloween season. As it sat, it dried up and shriveled. The donor of this specimen noted that the pumpkin’s vine was not originally there, but emerged from the pumpkin as it dried.

Note that the direction in which the vine twisted (circumnutation) as it grew is counter-clockwise (sinistrorse). Is this due to the Coriolis effect and the fact that the vine is growing in the Northern hemisphere? Most likely not. The Coriolis effect does not exert much force on small objects. According to research by Angela Moles, evolutionary biologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, about 92 percent of vines around the globe climb in an anticlockwise direction, regardless of which hemisphere they are growing in. This may be due to a left-handed bias of all biological molecules on earth. About 94 percent of seashells also twist in a counterclockwise direction.

Only a few species of plants tend to vine in a clockwise direction, and within a species, there can be a few outliers that vine in the opposite direction. The percentage of counter-clockwise vining plants on the planet is statistically similar to that of right-handedness in humans.  NEXT >

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