Range: Nebraska to California, southward to Texas and Mexico. Habitat: Dry or sandy soil; fields and waste places.
Root yellow inside, carrot-like, very thick and fleshy, often more than six inches in diameter and sometimes exceeding five feet in length. Stem stout, angled, ridged, rough-hairy, many-branched, fifteen to twenty-five feet long, trailing and rooting at the joints or climbing by means of branching tendrils. Leaves alternate, rather thick, four inches to a foot in length, ovate-triangular, long-pointed, usually truncate at base or sometimes heart-shaped, rough above, gray-hairy beneath, sharply toothed, with rough-hairy petioles less than half as long as the blades. The whole plant has a disagreeable, fetid odor, especially when bruised.. Flowers solitary in the axils and unisexual; calyx five-lobed, ridged, and bristly; corolla bright yellow, bell-shaped, three or four inches long and nearly as broad, deeply five-lobed with pointed and recurving tips, ridged, veined, and bearded inside and out; sterile flowers have three stamens, two of which have two-celled anthers, the other one-celled; fertile flowers have one pistil, with short, thick style and three-lobed stigmas. Ovary three celled, the fruit globose or broadly ovoid, about three inches in diameter, with a hard, smooth rind, yellow or pale green variegated with yellow, the pulp within fibrous and very bitter, the seeds numerous, oval, flattened, and lying horizontally in the triple cells.
These troublesome plants are most readily and certainly destroyed by strong hot brine, caustic soda, or carbolic acid, applied to the crown of the huge, fleshy root.