Echinocystis lobata

A climbing white-flowered plant whose fruits resembles a cucumber

Echinocystis lobata wild cucumber

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA Synonyms:   Sicyos lobata

This species is an annual climbing vine-like plant that is a member of the cucumber family. It has thin, heavily veined, maple-like leaves with 3-7 mostly triangular and toothed lobes. The leaves are rough on both sides. They are arranged singly along the stem at intervals from six to eight inches. The vine climbs over other vegetation, stumps and fences using 3-forked tendrils. The stem is yellow-green and sharply angular and is nearly smooth. This vine can be up to 10 feet long. The leaves are about 3 inches long.

The greenish-white flowers occur in clusters in leaf axils. The flowers have six twisted petals and are ½ to 5/8 inches wide. There are separate male and female flowers on the same vine. Female flowers are usually solitary or in small clusters. They lie below a long stalk bearing many male flowers. The pollen falls by gravity or wind from the upper male flowers to the lower female flowers.

The fruit is fleshy and covered with weak prickles and is about 2 inches long. It resembles a small cucumber but is inedible. It soon dries out to release four flat seeds. Juice from the fruit was formerly used to treat sunburn and to remove freckles. The plant grows in rich soil along moist stream banks, along fencerows, and in thickets much of North America, but is rare in the southeastern United States. The blooming period is June to October. It is also know by the common name balsam apple. The similar bur or star cucumber (Sicyos angulatus) has flowers with five petals and clustered fruits, each with a single seed.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Common in moist, alluvial soil, stream banks, and woods edges.  

Present throughout the state

Wetland codes

Flowers July through September.

Staminate flowers  in elongate, upright racemes, 6-merous

Pistillate flowers  solitary or in small clusters on a short peduncle

Leaves  5-lobed

Stems  up to 8 m, angular or grooved with branching tendrils;

Fruit  inflated, membranous capsule opening by 2 pores

S-rank:  No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Echinocystis lobata wild cucumber

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Synonyms:   Sicyos lobata
Echinocystis lobata gallery
Plant Life-Form
annual herbaceous vine
Common Names
wild cucumber wild mock cucumber