Sicyos angulatus (Bur Cucumber)
|Also known as:||Oneseed Burr Cucumber|
|Habitat:||shade, sun; moist woods, thickets, edges of streams|
|Bloom season:||August - September|
|Plant height:||5 to 20 foot vine|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Bur Cucumber has male and female flowers on the same plant. Individual flowers have 5 greenish-white pointed petals, tinged green at the base, with pale green veins along the length of the petal. Male flowers are about ½ inch across, stalked, in a raceme of 3 to 10 flowers clustered at the end of a long, hairy stem attached opposite a leaf. A column of pale yellow-tipped stamens protrudes from the center.
The female flowers are smaller and more bell-shaped than the male flowers, essentially stalkless, in a round cluster at the tip of a short stalk that elongates up to 3 inches in fruit. The center column is tipped with 3 stigmas.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are about the same length and width, from 4 to 8 inches across, with 3 to 5 shallow lobes. Depending on the depth of the lobes, the shape is somewhat like an angular heart or maple leaf. There are tiny widely spaced teeth all around the edges. The underside of leaves are finely hairy. Stems and stalks are covered in long, spreading hairs. Stems are ribbed and have branching tendrils that entwine around other plants
A cluster of up to 10 capsules form from the female flower heads. Each is almond or egg-shaped, ½ to 1 inch long, covered in stiff spines and long white hairs, and contains a single seed. The color is initially green and eventually turns brown.
Bur Cucumber can create pretty sizable patches. It and Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) both grow in similar habitats around the same time, but are easily distinguished by the different flower and leaf shapes. Wild Cucumber is also completely hairless, and its fruit is singular and much larger. Beware of Bur Cucumber fruits—the spines easily break off, embed themselves in skin and clothing, and can be rather painful!
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Scott counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?