Wild cucumbers display prickly fruit

wild cucumbers
Wild cucumbers dangle fruit from their brilliant, green vines. Anza Valley Outlook/Carolyn Leon photo
Prickly globes dangle from winding tendrils, surrounded by bright green leaves. A springtime phenomenon, the wild fruit demand attention as they dangle from vines wrapped among the redshank branches throughout the Anza Valley.Oddly named, the wild cucumber or manroot, Marah macrocarpa is a relative of the garden cucumber, watermelon and squash. Unlike these domesticated vegetables, all parts of the wild cucumber plant are toxic to some degree. It is a climbing and trailing perennial that emerges from a large woody or fleshy underground root that can weigh in excess of 100 pounds. One root, excavated at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, weighed 467 pounds. It is because of this root that this vine is one of the first plants to regrow after a wildfire.[caption id="attachment_2554
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