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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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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Sunday - July 01, 2012

From: Lewisville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identification of cucumber-like plant with red fruit
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi; My name is Peter, live in Lewisville. When I walked through a park trail last year, I noticed a very strange vine described as the following: It is vine with leaves and stems (size and shape) look almost "exact" as creeping cucumber, it climbs on the trees, the young fruit looks just likes a baby waterlemon with beautiful green/light green or yellow strips, if you just see the young fruit, you will definitely say it is a baby water melon; the ripe fruit is beautiful shinny red color with size about 1 to 1.5 inch perfect round ball shape. I picked a ripe fruit, cut it, the inside is not juicy, pretty hollow with about 10 black round ball-like seeds. Can you identify this beautiful plant and give me some detailed information or web sites if possible? Thanks. Peter

ANSWER:

Your plant description sounds like Ibervillea lindheimeri (Lindheimer's globeberry).  It is a member of the Family Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family).  Here are more photos and information from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas and from Texas Agrilife Reasearch and Extension Center in Uvalde, Texas.

It isn't poisonous, but it also isn't edible.   You can see a discussion about this aspect of it from the answer to a previous question.  You can also see more information about the edibility of the plant, in particular its roots, on the Texas Beyond History page.

For more information about globeberry, scroll to the bottom of the species page on our Native Plant Database (cited above) to the section labeled Additional Resources and click on the species name under USDA link and under the Google link.

 

From the Image Gallery


Balsam gourd
Ibervillea lindheimeri

Balsam gourd
Ibervillea lindheimeri

Balsam gourd
Ibervillea lindheimeri

Balsam gourd
Ibervillea lindheimeri

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