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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Monday - September 30, 2013

From: Theresa, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identity of vine in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hey there. I've recently found a "Wild Cucumber" vine in my backyard, which has been taking over our electric fence. Now I've stumbled across another very similar vine. They fruits are clustered together, in a bunch. Very small, not even an inch long, with large white seeds inside. They're also slightly spiny, but I'm unsure of how firm they are. They tend to stick to gloves rather well. When I first saw them, they reminded me of the "everlasting gobstoppers" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, only instead of varying colors, they're just green.

ANSWER:

Here is information about Echinocystis lobata (Wild cucumber) and here are more photos and information from Robert W. Freckman Herbarium University of Wisconsin.  

I think your other vine must be Sicyos angulatus (One-seed burr cucumber).  Here are more photos and information from Illinois Wildflowers and from Discover Life.  You are right—they do resemble "Everlasting Gobstoppers", only all green.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wild cucumber
Echinocystis lobata

One-seed burr cucumber
Sicyos angulatus

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