wild cucumber

topic posted Mon, April 25, 2005 - 1:03 PM by  Steve
I found this growing up in the sierra nevada foothills. Is this Edible? What are its medicinal properties?
It smelled like melon or cucumber, it tasted like sweet cucumber. its greem big, and spikey. I didnt ingest it cause i wasnt sure, but if its edible its beig enough to be good eating, id say its as big as 6 cucumbers, maybe bigger.
posted by:
  • Unsu...
    If it is the same plant that I think it is... than it is not edible and it's properties are strongly emetic. I tasted a bit of one, years ago, it was just like you describe it, green and spikey, the vine looked characteristically like a melon, the fruit was much smaller however, it was more the size of a large cucumber. Perhaps the one I found was still young? The difference is that the one that I tasted was foul! So bitter! I can still remember the flavor and it was about 15 years ago! I had to wash my mouth out in a nearby stream. This makes me think we have a different plant in mind...too bad you don't have a pic.
    • The seeds of it are very large and when dried can be fashioned into some ornamentation, or make a neat rattle (strung together). But this isn't the make neat stuff out of plants of the wild tribe is it? Oh well...
      • Unsu...
        Yep, the seeds are really large. The plant that I tasted was nearly all seeds.
        • THe seeds hadnt grown into the fruit yet, in place of the seeds was a translucent jelly that tasted sweet, there was prob 10 or less seed pockets. it did have a sweet taste and smell. the fruit was big, the pulp was big. Its so weird... ive never seen them this big before... i used to seem them about the size of a tennis ball, this was nearly football size. i wish i took pictures of it... i can again in the future.
          • Unsu...
            My thoughts are that you found a similar, related plant that escaped from someone's garden. Just a stab in the dark really.... The plant I tasted was more seeds than anything, slimy, smelled astringent and was definitly not sweet, by any stretch of the imagination.
            • thats so weird, i should ask the people that live near where i found it if they know anything. it smells and taste good, i want to eat it... but im afraid.
              • Unsu...
                What did the leaves look like and how big was the fruit (in cm). If you have a Jepson manual, you can look it up or if you give me a more detailed description I can look it up (I have a Jepson). I was under the impression that wild cucumber was toxic, so I wouldn't eat it until I was sure of what it was.
                • Unsu...
                  Okay, so I may have a suggestion from your description. Marah horridus has white, cup shaped flowers; the fruit is 9-20 cm, rounded at both ends and densely spiked. It occurs in shrubby and open areas in the Sierras. This is related to the man root (wild cucumber) and is the only one with a big enough fruit that occurs in the Sierras. I'm really curious, so if you look it up and it matches was you saw let me know. Jepson doesn't say if it's toxic or not.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    ok, im quite certain you found the correct genus and species. This is the only Species of the Marah species that exist naturally in the county i found it in (Madera). Im really confused though, descriptions say it should be bitter, but it was refreshingly sweet, it tasted like a bland melon or sweet cucumber... i dont know what to think, but the vine and fruit were for sure what the pictures are showing me. the fruit was big, biggest fruit ive ever found growing in the wild. much bigger then the manroot fruits that grow in the Santa Clara county, near Morgan Hill. any thoughts?
                    • Unsu...
                      I guess some might consider this dangrous and/or foolish, but if it were me and I had the fruit and it tasted good to me and my visceral respose was positive, then I would eat a small amount and see what happens. I am one of those kinds of people though. I'm sure you've probably encountered someone like me at least once. You know, a nibbler. A grazer. I basically will taste any plant that passes the smell test first. I like unfamiliar things.
                      I know that many toxic plants are extremely bitter. I do not know of any plants that are sweet and also toxic. I would love to more know about poisonous plants in general since that category of plants has been largely overlooked in my studies. This topic fascinates me to no end. Indigenous folks all over the world say the same thing...the plants tell them directly what their properties are. So my thoughts to you are...let the plant tell you about itself and listen with all of your senses.
                      • it didnt feel toxic to me, but prior knowledge of it told me it may be...
                        im just not sure... there is so much I dont know that I need to learn...
                        • Unsu...
                          The DOH (department of health) lists Manroot or wild cucumber as toxic. It claims the juice and seeds are toxic. It doesn't list species though, so I'm not sure which one they are talking about. It's the same genus, so I would be wary. It's odd though, sweet smelling plants are generally not toxic, the bitterness of a plant is usually a gauge for how toxic it is. Hmm...
                          • yeah, im not going to ingest any untill I know for sure its non-toxic. But for now im going to assume it is. I got my camera phone working, so next time im up there ill take some pictures and post it on tribe, or i can send them directly to anyone whos interested. If you want pictures of wild plants and other strange plants i come across message me an email address i can send pictures to and I will! or if you have a sprint picture phone i can send them to you directly. i take pictures of wild plants all the time, some of the pictures in this tribe are from my phone.

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