Tiny cucumbers

rizzir(z7b TN)July 20, 2005

OK, I'm hoping that y'all can solve a mystery for me.

Awhile ago I posted a picture of what appeared to be a cucumber plant with very small leaves that I found growing wild in my backyard. The leaves are at most 2" wide, but many are smaller. It has all the characteristics of a cucumber plant - rough, sandpapery leaves, curlique tentrils that grab, tiny hairs on the stem, smells a bit like cucumbers when the leaf is crushed.

The other day I went into the part of the backyard where these wild creatures are growing, and they had gotten tiny fruits! They are just larger than gumballs, not even 1" long, and perhaps 1/2" wide. They start out whitish, with pale green stripes (like a cucumber), darkening to a dark green over most of the fruit. They are spineless and smooth. They have that characteristic cucumber smell when broken open, with the light white-green flesh around the sides and tiny cucumber seeds inside (although bigger in proportion to the fruits than are the seeds of normal-sized cucumbers) and the seeds have that cucumber jelly stuff around each one individually. In the immature fruit the seeds are flat (as in a cucumber ready to eat) but in the mature fruit the seeds are plumped out a bit and a darker yellow, with more jelly and less flesh. What flesh remains is not firm and the fruit ruptures easily.

These are all the same details you'd see in any cucumber, except they are entirely spineless and very, very tiny.

I and two of my friends at work did research on the Internet to try to find out what they are, but we had no luck. Combined I think we put in about 6 hours of research! They are not "wild cucumbers" of North America, this I know - those are very spiny, much larger, and not considered edible. These don't fit anything I could find on wild cucumbers at all.

A friend (who hasn't seen them) describes something similar that a friend of hers used to find growing on fence rows and eat in the summer. She isn't sure if those had spines or not.

I know you will think I'm crazy, but I ate some. The first day I ate about 25 of them. Aside from the burps that some cucumbers will give you, I was absolutely fine. The next day I took some in my salad to work (which is why my co-workers helped me do more research.)

They are cute little things, and I like the taste of them when they are in the light green stage. Very cucumbery. Best of all, they don't need to be cut up to throw in salad. They are perfect little bite-sized cucumbers.

Oh, and the vines get teeny-tiny golden yellow blossoms on them... just like cucumbers.

Any idea what these are called?

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ladybug37091(z7 Tennessee)

No clue but you have my curiosity up. I hope you don't get any Willy Wonka like side effects from eating the unknown.lol

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 1:42PM
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I hope you keep some seeds and try for next year!
I tried a spineless cucumber that is new to me this summer; "Armenian Yard Long" from Ferry Morse. It's pale green, ribbed and have found no bitterness in any yet.
Always something new!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 10:00AM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

OK, I have a tiny cucumber plant in captivity now, here at my desk. It's growing fine under the fluorescent light. Hopefully it will climb the power cord toward the light then set some fruit (might have to get it a mate for that, I guess!)


    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 6:36PM
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redpoppy215(8 TN)

What perfect timing! I think I can solve your mystery for you -- I've had a mystery "tiny cucumber" vine growing in my greenhouse for the past 3 years, with no clue to its identity, despite the enormous amount of time I spent reading books on taxonomy and other horticultural information. Anyway, last week or so I posted a description on the "name that plant" forum, and within two hours someone had suggested the Creeping Cucumber, or Guadalupe Cucumber, Melothria pendula. I checked out the link, and THAT'S IT!!! It sounds you have the same thing.... tiny little smooth fruits with a cucumber smell, small leaves, tendrils, and little yellow flowers (although mine are more orange... by the way, the hummingbirds LOVE them -- do you get any hummers on yours?)

So, check out the link below and see if it looks right to ya!

Here is a link that might be useful: Melothria pendula

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 3:05PM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

That's it! That's it!!!! I, too, posted it on the "Name That Plant" forum awhile back, but at that time I never received a response. THANK YOU for this name! Now I can really research it like I want to.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 7:37PM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

So today I was at the UT Trial Gardens today and I saw Guadeloupe cucumber climbing through one of their beds. Apparently it gets around!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 8:33PM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Shucks, I thought we pulled all those buggers out last Thursday! LOL!

They're all over the UT beds. And now I have em at home too, since I transplanted one last spring -- not knowing what it was!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 9:53PM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

I have one in a pot on my desk here at work, growing up the light cord toward the fluorescent...

And I've sprouted a few seeds in a pot at home outside. I want to see if, with a little TLC, it can be made to produce bigger/better etc. mini cukes.

By the way, I emailed an expert in plant toxicology who had mentioned this plant in a compendium of toxic plants. He feels the fruits are not toxic, but that, like many plants, eating the leaves, etc. might give one the runs. So into my salad go these cute little cukes!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 10:29PM
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redpoppy215(8 TN)

amazindirt -- you mentioned they're all over the UT beds, and that you probably now have them at home -- would you consider this plant invasive, or obnoxiously hard to get rid of? I have people wanting some seeds for themselves, but before I start handing them out I'd like to make sure these folks aren't going to hate me next year for giving them a kudzu equivalent!

I read somewhere else that they could become invasive, but so far I haven't had a problem with mine.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 4:07PM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Well, I'm probably not the best person to ask. After all, I *like* ground ivy! LOL.

I would say it is mildly invasive, but not hard to pull up. In ideal situations like the UT perennial beds, it is certainly spreading a good bit -- but in my yard at home, I've only gotten a coupla volunteers. Not really a big deal, IMHO, and it *does* have pretty little leaves. :-)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 12:51PM
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Rizzir, the wild cuke grows well here in Oklahoma, too. I also like the fruits, but have to pick them when really small [3/8" across] or the seeds are tough. It's a novelty to find wild edibles in the yard and garden.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 10:42AM
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redpoppy215(8 TN)

Ok, then I'll pass it along without worrying about it. Thanks for the info! :)

(speaking of ground ivy -- which has become my lifelong nemesis, I'm afraid -- this past weekend my cousin proudly showed me this cute little groundcover that had sprung up all on its own in her brand new flowerbeds, and was quickly filling in all available space. Yep, ground ivy.)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 11:23AM
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We just bought 3 plants today. They're called "Mouse Melon" or "Mexican Gherkin" and their botanical name is Melothrie scabra. We will plant them in a 5 gallon container with a climbing support. They look just like miniature cuke plants. Can't wait to see the fruits!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 7:28PM
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Hi, the ivy I found growing this spring in minnesota is trailing up my downspouts and the big green pods are the size of roma tomatoes and have somewhat soft spikes all around them! I cut one in half,and there is 4 brown seeds in them. Can I plant them next spring,and how should I keep them untill them? Thank you so much for your time.I also would like to know what kind of ivy it is. I too love ivy's!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 2:42PM
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HI There, these tiny cucumbers are called "Wild Cucmber - Melothria pendula". They can be sometimes found in Caribbean bushes, thought to have sprouted from seeds found in bird droppings.

The green cucumbers are said to be edible, BUT the Black one is NOT edible some say.

Thanks for your posts, keep well everyone




    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:09PM
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Thanks to this information. Now i know that the small wild cucumber-like weeds growing here in our town in Sibonga, Cebu, Philippines is a Guadeloupe cucumber. This type of plant is actually unknown to us until i notice it early 2011 and it grows everywhere in abundance.I thought it as a weed so we burn it down but it keeps growing and I thought it as a wild fruit so i taste some. I tasted two pieces of immature green fruit and the ripe deep green colored one. well i was ok. I believe the birds brought some seeds here coz' there are some colored birds passing in our area. And oh just now i read that the black ripe Guadeloupe cucumber is poisonous. While, the green immature fruit is edible and can be use in salad. Thanks to this information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Melothria Pendula

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 6:17AM
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