Echinocystis lobata (Wild Cucumber)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade, sun; moist woods, thickets, along streams|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 10 foot vine|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Wild Cucumber has both male and female flowers on the same plant. Individual flowers are ½ inch across, with 6 narrow greenish white petals that are covered in short, glandular hairs and often twisted. Male flowers are in a 4 to 8 inch long erect, loose cluster on a naked stem opposite a leaf. A short column of pale yellow-tipped stamens protrudes from the center
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are nearly as wide as they are long, up to 7 inches across, with 5 triangular lobes. The shape is similar to a maple leaf. There are tiny widely spaced teeth all around the edges. Stems are angled, hairless, and have branching tendrils that entwine surrounding vegetation.
Fruit is a pod-like container up to 2 inches long, covered with spines, and holds 4 seeds. The pod looks a little like a spiny watermelon. The container turns papery brown as seeds ripen and persists through winter. When ripe, the bottom of the pod opens up, dropping the seed to the ground.
Wild Cucumber can create very dense, large patches, seeming to smother everything it covers but rarely doing much actual damage. In late summer it's easy to spot even at 60mph, the numerous flowers giving a light green hue to often darker green supporting vegetation. Wild Cucumber is easily distinguished from Bur Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus), which is hairy, has 5-petaled star-shaped flowers, leaves that are much more shallowly lobed, and a cluster of small fruits, each rather smaller than Wild Cucumber's.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Wild Cucumber vine
- Wild Cucumber vine
- Christmas tree decoration?
- fruit, after releasing seed
- Wild Cucumber in winter
- atypical leaves with narrower lobes
- spring sprout
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?