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Creeping Cucumber, Guadeloupe Cucumber, Squirting Cucumber - Melothria pendula


Family: Cucurbitaceae - Cucumber family Genus Common Name: Melothria Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Melothria pendula - Creeping Cucumber, Guadeloupe Cucumber, Squirting Cucumber. While there are about 12 worldwide, there is only 1 species in the Melothria genus in the United States - Melothria pendula. The Cucumber family (Cucurbitaceae) is primarily a family of tropical and subtropical species. Melothria pendula is one of the rare temperate ones, growing in the eastern half of the United States as far north as Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. It is Threatened in Illinois, Endangered in Maryland, and believed Extirpated in Indiana.

Found in:
AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA

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Melothria pendula

Distribution of Melothria pendula in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 28 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-25Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flower of Creeping Cucumber is held on a long pedicel. The yellow blossom has 5 lobes and is 1/4 inch across or smaller.
Melothria pendula

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-25Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flowers are so tiny, it is the tiny, smooth watermelon-like fruit of the Creeping Cucumber vine that attracts more attention. This one is about an inch long, and you can see the remains of the flower on opposite end from the insect. These tiny fruits are reported to be edible when they are young (but do your own research on Melothria pendula and make sure you've got the correct species!) I can personally attest that they taste like a cucumber. The older, darker fruits are not considered edible. Creeping Cucumber is a thin vine that grows to 6 or more feet long. The "pendula" species epithet comes from the fruit dangling at the end of the pedicel.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Melothria pendula

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-25Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The leaves of Melothria pendula are variable - on this plant they were somewhat ivy-shaped with two lobes in a palmate pattern. Flora of North America indicates the consistent attribute is that they have cordate bases, and have scabrous to hispid surfaces.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Melothria pendula

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-25Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The male blossom is smaller than the female blossom. I believe this is a male blossom, but this is also one of the larger leaves on the plant. It may have both male and female blossoms on the same plant.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Melothria pendula

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer