WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Sep 8th, 2009

Wild Bur Cucumber

Sep 8

Bur Cucumbers are a member of the Cucumber Family living on the wild side of the garden fence. The fruit bears no resemblance to their pickling cousins and looks nothing like anything you’d want to put in your mouth.

Bur Cucumber Flower – Sicyos angulatus

Bur Cucumber Flower

Hairy and Scary come together. Bald Faced Hornets generally mind their own business and this one didn’t mind me getting in it’s face. Stir up their nest though and you’ll be in a world of trouble.

White Faced Hornet
White Faced Hornet
Click image to open 1024 x 768 wallpaper size

Like garden variety cucumbers the wild vines keep producing new fruit as the older ones mature.

Seed pods on bur cucumber

Bur Cucumber pods forming

Bur Cucumber Seed Pods

I really don’t know if these are edible or not. Looking at them I don’t think anyone would want to try. But something did. Looks like they didn’t finish their meal but at least it gave us a peek at the single flat seed within each pod.

Bur Cucumber Seed Pods

A bit anti-climatic but here’s what the leaf looks like.

Bur Cucumber Leaf

15 Responses

  1. Mary Delle Says:

    I really enjoyed time lapses to watch this unusual cucumber grow.

  2. bangchik Says:

    Older folks keep reminding us about looking out for signs if a fruit is edible or not. Those consumed by bigger animals like squirrels and monkeys are generally safe. We should never use insects as benchmark because they are short lived anyway… huh, is your wild cucumber safe?.. hmm. ~bangchik

  3. Monica the Garden Faerie Says:

    I love the photos–very… I don’t know the adjective!

  4. rainfield61 Says:

    Your “Power Ranger” is called the White Ranger. It is powerful, at one click it grows bigger.

  5. Sweet Bay Says:

    You’re right, that doesn’t look like something I’d want to eat. Not too fond of cucumbers either, for that matter!

    We have a lot of Bald-Faced Hornets here but have only seen one nest — that’s probably a good thing. If I ever brush by one in the tractor I hope I’m going at high speed.

  6. Helen at Toronto Gardens Says:

    This one is a little different from the kind that I used to see wild when I lived nearer to the country. Ours had a larger “fruit” with more seeds in it. Great shots. The bald-faced hornet is giving you a particularly cooperative pose.

  7. jodi (bloomingwriter) Says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen this one before. We have your basic wild cucumber around here, and I perversely love it. Maybe because the best (or worst, depending on your POV) room shaft I did while at ag. college was to basically festoon a classmate’s room with bags and bags of wild cucumber vines. I think she forgave me…eventually.

  8. tina Says:

    Very cool cucumber. Not sure if I’d want to eat it but at least to try it I think. I wonder if it tastes like a cuke? Great series of pictures which almost make it seem like it is out of this world.

  9. tina Says:

    Just curious, what does your wife have to say about the cold feet comment?:) Love the frog picture.

  10. Joy Says:

    I think we used to find these are kids and pretended to eat them ? LOL
    Your pictures are amazing Mr. WiseA** you get better and better all the time .. pretty soon you will be darn PERFECT !! haha
    I noticed you said you haven’t seen Monarchs either (on Jodie’s post) .. I have not yet either as well .. I grow it ALL .. a butterfly smorgasbord and NONE .. is it me or Kingston ??? 😉

  11. Zeta Allen Says:

    During a recent walk I discovered a vine on our property that I have never seen before. It matches the pictures presented on this site. It seems that I would have noticed the blossom earlier? Unless there is another vine that produces the spiked green oval pod containing ‘beans’ this must be it.
    Are they edible beans and are the indigenous to Northwest Indiana?
    Thank you

  12. Tharp Says:

    What you have is an invasive burcucumber, the native is different. See detail below.

    Wild Cucumber (Balsam-apple, Bur Cucumber)
    Echinocystis lobata
    Wild cucumber looks similar to bur cucumber, a related vine. Wild cucumber flowers generally have six petals; bur cucumber flowers have five.

    • Family: Gourd (Cucurbitaceae)
    • Habitat: stream banks, moist thickets and woods
    • Height: vine
    • Flower size: 1/2 to 3/4 inch across
    • Flower color: greenish-white
    • Flowering time: June to October
    • Origin: native
    next white flower
    next in gourd

    Both species are very similar looking. One big difference is the seedpods, note the cluster of pods in my photos.

    Echinocystis lobata forms individual large seedpods.
    Sicyos angulatus develops clusters of smaller seedpods

    I’m going to stick by my ID

  13. Michael Says:

    i never once seen any of these in Indiana but i would like to mix these with regular cucumbers and then see how they would grow or i would make a cross of the 2 and then see what the fruit would look like and seed i bet it could be done

  14. Michael Says:

    they must be in the nightshade family because the fruit looks like a datura-seedpod kind of

  15. Tracy Keach Says:

    i think i have a bur cucumber growing right outside my door it is intrusive wrapping around everything and definitely attracting the bees of all kinds, if these are not edible, i guess i need to unfortunately destroy the specimen before someone gets stung?