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

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Wednesday - November 16, 2011

From: Coppell, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identification of a cucumber-like vine with fruit
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We found tiny, grape-size white melon-like fruit on a vine, with tomato-like/cucumber-like seeds. The leaves on the vine were similar to grape or cucumber leaves, but not spiny. They were behind our shed. No clue where or how they got there, as we had redone the entire yard, and it should have been bare. Do you have any clue what they might be and if they are edible? I can send a photo if you wish. Thank you! TAMU Class of '82

ANSWER:

Your description sounds like Melothria pendula (Guadeloupe cucumber).  The Poisonous Plants of North Carolina says that the "raw berry is edible, but a strong laxative."  Thus, they classify it as causing "only low toxicity if eaten."  Another "take" from Eat the Weeds on the edibility of the fruit is that the green fruits are edible, but the mature purple fruits are the ones that cause the trouble. 

I imagine the way the plant got in your backyard is from seeds that were deposited by a bird or small animal.

If this isn't your plant, please visit our Plant Identification page to find several links to plant identifcation forums that accept photos for identification.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Guadeloupe cucumber
Melothria pendula

Guadeloupe cucumber
Melothria pendula

Guadeloupe cucumber
Melothria pendula

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