Wild Cucumbers Loose in Contra Costa County!!
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
It definitely was a plant that the AAMG rarely see, but with some sleuthing MG Brian K. was able to identify it as a “Wild Cucumber” as it is commonly called. It is a California native no less. Its official formal name is Marah macrocarpa (or Marah-fabacea). My further research found that it is a perennial, the root can grow to several hundred pounds, but nowhere I looked indicated that it is edible. It does make for interesting conversations in the garden though.
Wild Cucumber also goes by Cucamonga Manroot or Bigroot. California Native Plant Society says that:
“Marah macrocarpa is the common manroot of most of southern California and Baja California. Cucamonga manroot has the most hairy shoots, stems, and leaves of all the manroot species native to California - this being consistent with its range having the most arid climate of all the species in California. Vines appear in late winter in response to increased rainfall, and can climb or scramble to a length of 6 meters (20 feet). Its leaves typically have five lobes with individual plants showing wide variation in leaf size and lobe length."
Interesting about Wild Cucumber. It's been popping up around my yard and around the Lamorinda area this year. I think 50+ inches of rain might have something to do with it. It's quite attractive and at first I wasn't sure if was was friend or foe or if it was an intentionally planted vine because it was popping up adjacent to fences. It grew happily about 8' in all directions in no time. When it started to climb over and strangle new little plants with its tendrils, I decided it was foe. It re-sprouts from tubers which Wiki says can be several meters long and up to 220 lbs so I probably haven't seen the last of it.
So have you seen any Wild Cucumbers in your garden lately? You might want to take another look before it's too late?
Thanks to MGs Stephanie, Stella, Brian, and Martha for giving us this important info that Wild Cucumbers are loose in Contra Costa County… and this isn't “fake news”.
Help Desk of the Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SIM)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>