En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Smarty Plants on cross pollination

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 16, 2005

From: Cosby, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Smarty Plants on cross pollination
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in Cosby, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I plant native species of wildflowers and shrubs. My question to you is: I planted cucumbers in raised beds next to the woods. When I went out to pick some cucumbers I noticed a small replica of the cucumber plant growing right in with them. This plant has a small 5 petal yellow flower which turns into a small green fruit (?) and grows on a vine that is a rapid grower. The leaves are staggered on each side of the vine (not across from each other). Will this plant cross-pollinate with my cucumbers? Is this plant poisonous? I've been eating my cucumbers and nothing has happened to me yet. I would like to hear from you regarding my questions. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Your plant sounds like Meloncito (Melothria pendula), a member of the Family Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family). Other common names are Creeping cucumber or Speckled gourd. More pictures appear in the Missouri Plants database. If you would like to verify that this is your plant, you can send us a digital photo. Visit the Ask the Expert page and follow the instructions under "Plant Identification."

The Poisonous Plants of North Carolina database lists it as mildly toxic--the fruit is listed as a strong laxative. Melothria is very unlikely to cross with your cucumber; intergeneric hybrids are extremely rare. Further, even if it did cross with your cucumber, the fruit of the current generation would not be affected at all and would be completely safe to eat. Only the progeny of the cross would exhibit any characteristics of the male parent plant. So, unless you collect the seeds to replant next year or let the fruits fall for their seeds to germinate next year, you won't have a problem.

A bigger concern could be the possibility of vectoring a cucurbit virus to your garden plants. There is a virus called Melothria Mottle Virus that is hosted by Melothria plants and to which plants in the Cucumis genus (cucumbers) are susceptible. Although not too likely to happen, this virus could potentially affect your garden cucumbers, so it would probably be a good idea to keep the plants from close proximity.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of low plant with like waterlily pad
May 04, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a low growing plant with leaves the shape of a waterlily pad, approx.1" growing all over my yard. I actually like them but would like to know the name of the plant. Thank y...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Round Rock TX
October 26, 2010 - I am looking for the name of a ground cover I saw that looked like large bur oak leaf in a silvery green color. It was in the shade. I tried a search with no luck. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Identity of maroon flower taking over bluebonnets
April 14, 2008 - there is a maroon colored flowering weed at my ranch in Oakwood Texas. It is taking over the bluebonnets and indian paint brushes. Can you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it.
view the full question and answer

Origin of sticky, smelly substance on dog in Southern California
August 27, 2011 - I just took my dog out (mid August) in Aguanga, CA (high desert) and, after coming back in, noted that his feet and legs were covered in a very sticky substance that STINKS - there is some kind of pla...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Springfield OR
July 08, 2009 - I recently discovered a wildflower closely resembling the Oregon Lady Slipper, apparently a wild orchid, but with many blooms on a single long stem and with no apparent leaves. I'd like more informat...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center