mystery vine produces tiny 'watermelons'

redpoppy215(8 TN)July 19, 2005

Sorry, no pic, but I'm hoping maybe someone has seen/heard of this before:

I have a mystery vine that's been growing in my greenhouse for seveal years. It has small squash-like leaves, up to 3-4" inches across, and bears long tendrils. It readily climbs up shrubs and into hanging plants, then hangs down out of the plants it clings to. It blooms all year (in the greenhouse, of course) with mostly 5-pointed (sometimes 4) bright orange flowers, each about 3/4" across. Hummingbirds love the flowers. The flowers are followed by fruit that looks like tiny watermelons, pale green with dark green markings (or dark green with pale green markings), but get up to an inch long, at most. The inside of the fruit stays light green. When I cut one open, it smells very sweet and melon-y/cucumber-y.

Any ideas?

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I don't know what it is, but I have had a similar plant grow in my back yard this year. It looks like a melon/cucumber vine, with many 1-2 inch fruits just like you described. The fruit turned bright yellow when ripe. I bit one and it was kind of sweet and sour; looked like a cucumber inside..


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 5:11PM
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i don't know what it is called either but i do know that 3 life times ago when i was small and lived in mexico we used to boil this little melons and mix with hot pepper to make a hot sauce.
.that didn't help much, i know, but we called them meloncitos meaning little melons..

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 3:26AM
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redpoppy215(8 TN)

I posted my same query in the "Name That Plant" forum, and got my answer, so if anyone is interested: it's a Creeping Cucumber, (or Guadalupe Cucumber) Melothria pendula.

Here is a link that might be useful: melothria pendula

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 12:20PM
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The answer above seems to be what this plant is, but here's another thought. Vine peaches. I've never had this + they're growing ALL over my terrace now since I got a free packet of seeds for placing an order for something else. They also look exactly as you describe. Some are at the yellow stage now, but I haven't picked any yet - want to get them more yellow - and ripe. I can't find a picture of the plant but here's a picture of the ripe fruit -

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 12:44PM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

I, too, have these tiny cucumbers, so I've been doing the same research as RedPoppy (who kindly gave me the answer, thanks!)

Cucumbers are closely related to melons and cantaloupes (you can tell from the very similar traits of the leaves, stems, curly tendrils, smell of the foliage, and diseases they all can catch from each other) and only slightly more distantly from pumpkins and squashes. Melons seem to have originally come from Armenia, while pumpkins and squashes are native to the Americas.

From what I've read, the cultivated cucumber (Cucumis sativus) originated in India. Most websites about cucumbers claim there are "no cucumbers native to the Americas" but to me, this appears untrue.

There are tiny members of the family that are very much like cucumbers, and I personally am having a hard time figuring out why they are not acknowledged to be cucumbers, period.

That's the one called Melothria pendula... it looks like a very tiny, perfect, smooth WATERMELON, about 1 cm. long. But the plant simply oozes "cucumber" - smells like it, tastes like it, has the jelly around the seeds just like it. The only difference is in its Lilliputian size! I eat them in salads when they are light-greenish. If you let them get to fully ripe (Dark green), they do what a normal cucumber does - they get mushy, and the seeds fill out (not good to eat.) But just before actual ripeness, they're tasty. I know a few websites are saying these have a laxative effect, but I haven't experienced any such thing, and I have challenged them to show me where they got that information. We'll see if they respond. These are the ones I believe are being called "meloncitos" above. It's nice to see that others are not afraid of eating these, either.

There are what I would consider two different species being called Melothria pendula, it appears. One gets shiny, curly leaves that don't much resemble a cucumber vine to me, and the fruits look slightly larger and are shaped something like pear tomatoes. These may be the ones where the ripe fruits turn blue-black, and possibly are the ones that are laxative.

As for Cucumis melo, these are the varieties of cantaloupe. The tiny melon some people refer to as "plum granny" or "Queen Anne's Pocket melon" is Cucumis melo var. dudaim - they are said to have a most incredible smell when left on a table, and they were fashionable when our grandmothers were keeping house, hence the name. In Victorian times, and possibly all the way back to the Egyptians, they were carried in the pocket as a body fragrance. As I understand it, they are about the size of a plum, and may have a sweet taste or a bland taste, depending on variety. They turn yellow-orange when ripe, and are considered a noxious invasive weed in 45 states, but are still prized by some as fun heirlooms. I'm thinking these are the "vine peaches" mentioned above.

Also somewhat cucumber-like are the very spiny Echinocystis lobata, native to the U.S., which are inedible.

There. That's more than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 12:19AM
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Rizzir, i have also eaten the tiny light green fruits. Nothing happened to me, either, but I also know it would take all day to pick enough for a salad. They taste just like regular cultivated cukes.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 12:32AM
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Melons certainly do exist in the U.S. as a native. I was just in Oregon, where these nifty half-prickly guys grow all over the rock beaches. I have their latin name around here...

I thought that some time ago I read that all Curcurbitas or Melons are edible. Has anyone one else read this or are my synapses crossed?
I think that it was "Seed Saver's Exchange" and "Baker Creek Seeds" that carried a bunch of these things if anyone is interested.

Now to add another question to the melon mixture: I remember a melon grown in the Butterfly Pavillion in the Denver area that looked exactly like miniature watermelons on a fine-textured curcurbitaceous vine on a guard rail. But the odd fact that I remember was that either the fruit or the flowers could be squished to make a very powerful dye. I remember it on some paper; it was something suprising like red, orange, blue, or purple. (This has been years ago!)

James in Hot hot ( 106F new record) Colorado.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 1:54AM
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It's possible you're describing a Plum Granny or what they used to call Victorian Pocket Melons, as people used to put them in their pockets to disguise their body odor before deoderant. They are useful for adding fragrance in your house or suspended from a string on your front porch. My neighbor introduced me to these, but this year we have had a slim crop because of the lack of rain. They are a pretty plant that looks just like a cucumber plant.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 2:36PM
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i have a similar plant. it is a vine growing all over my fence. which i believed to be clematis. it has tiny white flowers. i just noticed the other day that it is now covered in what look to be watermelons but they have prickly spikes on them. they are soft and when you open them there are 4 seeds in them that look like pumpkin seeds or white watermelon seeds. any idea what this is?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 2:38PM
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poppy_power(Z5 OH)

The melon in the picture.Looks like tigger melon? Karla

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 3:42PM
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blycox(7a MD)

So, I have a mystery vine growing on my trellis, too. (Zone 6b) It has vaguely heart-shaped leavesnot as heart shaped as a morning gloryƂand in August it produced clusters of tiny white flowers that smelled wonderful, just like heliotrope. The flowers tended to hang down, not to stick up like a polygonum or silver lace vine. Today I discovered strange fruits hanging down like gourds, except that they're shaped more like fat green bananas, maybe 4" long at present. Does anyone know what this is?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 5:59PM
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I am wondering if this is any relation to a mystery vine that showed up in my yard this year. Every year we get "vines" growing, I assume due to the number of bird feeders my husband has placed around our home. This year we were blessed with three different vines. On the east side of our home we grew decorative gourds. On the north, we were blessed with two nicely shaped birdhouse gourds. The west....well, that was a DIFFERENT story!! We had a small vine start. Then it started to spread. It had nice little golden yellow, star-like flowers most of the summer, but no fruit appeared. Two weeks ago a friend was visiting who "knows" plants (by the way, she didn't "know" this one!) and while showing her the vine (which by this time had covered aprx. 100 sq. ft.), I lifted some leaves and, much to my surprise, found fruit growing!! It looks like squatty cucumbers, about 3-4" in length, but chubby. The odd thing about their appearance is the sharp barb-like warts all over them. The new growth starts at yellow-green berry-looking things. They then grow into these cukes. Tonight I cut one open (while on the phone with a friend, just in case I was abducted by POD PEOPLE!) and the inside rather looks like a cuke and once fully cut open, smells like a cuke. The REALLY odd thing is the juice. You don't really notice it until it starts dripping from the cut turns a VERY dark pink...reminded me of watered down blood!! Okay, okay...too many Halloween movies! It IS that time of year. I would just like to find out what this is and if anyone knows if it is edible? It has become quite famous in our neighborhood and we're all very curious. Any help out there would be appreciated!! Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 10:10PM
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I planted cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe and out of curiosity a package that just said melon (that's Wal-Mart for you) that was supposed to be very sweet. I planted in early April since we've had an unusually warm to hot spring and summer this year. My cucumbers come up right on time and have been producing all season. The melons on the other hand have not come up at all. Which is strange since we first started seeing flowers a little over three months ago. We had a problem with groundhogs all year but set live traps, caught and released them elsewhere in the wild a little over a month ago. Since then our garden has thrived. We've harvested almost everything that is due so far and our melon plants are flowering again, many with small ovaries. Yesterday though we found a melon about the size of a cantaloupe but with color and texture of a watermelon only with long ribs down the length of it and it was more oblong shaped (like an extremely large pear). It looks like a honeydew melon on the inside but tastes like a cucumber. Just like a cucumber! Does anyone have any ideas of where I've gone wrong with my melons? Or is this an extremely large or morphed cucumber? I have pictures for anyone that would like to see it.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 4:04PM
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Could u send me some seeds from this fruit?
24658 longwood Dr.
#9 reedsport or 97467

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:16PM
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