COUNTY AG NEWS

Wild Cucumber Have you been noticing a bright green vine that has been climbing up trees and fence lines this summer? What you are seeing is the wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata), a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, squash, and melons. Wild cucumber is a native annual of Wisconsin and most of North America. As an annual, wild cucumber dies every winter, but can come back again in the spring since the plant is good at reseeding itself. Wild cucumber is characterized by its distinct color, vining habit, tendrils, and spiny fruit pods. While this plant is in the cucumber family, the fruit pods are not edible; however they can be an interesting addition to flower arrangements. Wild cucumber become more noticeable this time of year when they have achieved some growth and are flowering. In years where there is a drought or periods of dry weather, the plant will get stressed. When any plant is stressed, it will produce more seeds to try to protect itself.  This is then seen as a surge of the plant the following year, due to the larger number of seeds present in the soil.