Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Jersey cucumbers

Fresh and inedible. Fall seems to be the time for native wild cucumbers, of which there are two types in New Jersey according to Karl Anderson's list. They have recently become conspicuous, becoming greener as other vegetation begins to fade away. They are still blooming in mid-September, and still growing fast...high up into trees and up and over shrubs. The tendrils and leaves are really cucumber-like (it's in the same family, Cucurbitaceae) and are really picturesque. I somehow never came across these plants until living at my current house (northern NJ) where they are ubiquitous. The most common species is Bur Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus), but I also came across one specimen of Prickly Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) down by the river.

Bur Cucumber growing up the wires of my garden fence, quite close to his domestic cousin.

Bur Cucumber Flowers.

Bur Cucumber Fruit (quite bur-like).
Bur Cucumber growing high up in a black walnut.

The rarer Prickly Cucumber. This is the only individual I've found so far, and I can't remember where exactly! Somewhere along the Musconetcong River in the WMA. It has longer petals, more finger-like leaves, and a neat-looking spiky oblong orb of a fruit. I have no idea what eats such bur-like and prickly cucumbers and disperses their seeds, but apparently not humans. 

No comments:

Post a Comment