Monday, October 21, 2013

Wild Cucumber

My first encounter with this native annual came at the edge of a wood one late August a time when all the energy of Summer had maxed out.  This springy rapacious vine has tendrils like slender tentacles grasping onto anything that it meets.  As an annual, it is not woody so can be easily coaxed to configure to what you wish provided you stay on top of it.  Otherwise it will mischievously set about clambering upon all with its pleasing light green maple-shaped leaves.

Echinocystis lobata, so called because of the spinulose fruits that develop in late summer often alongside its flowers, especially likes moist swales and can often be seen alongside roadsides making plumy creamy undulations as it sweeps atop the hedgerows.  However, it probably can grow in less than optimal conditions although not as voluminously.

wild cucumber climbing upon a spirea bush and close up of the flowers

the fruit with tendril in the background

This year was a banner year for wild cucumber in the Northeast.  Just recently I tore up all the vines (very easy to do) and placed them at the base of a large fence so their watermelon-like seeds can sprout next spring and cover it.

a transplant from my garden last May

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