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Archive for September 8th, 2010

Happy-Go-Lucky

I can’t help but smile when I see Wild Cucumber vines at this time of year. Everything about this native vine seems to suggest joie de vivre. I love the way the vines scramble and tumble and frolic over fence tops and shrubs as they reach for the sun.

I love the gay, frothy clouds of tiny white flowers. The racemes, or stems, of six-petalled flowers have a frilly, lighter-than-air appearance. And then there is the fruit that gives the vine its common name.

They’re not actually solid like cucumbers at all. The fruit is a hollow bladder, with a few shiny hard black seeds inside. Late in the fall, the pod dries out and releases the seeds from its open bottom. Wild Cucumber is a member of the gourd family. It’s scientific name, Echinocystis lobata, refers to its leaves, which have five deep lobes.

All in all, the most cheerful plant I know.

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