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Arabian Cucumber Cucumis dipsaceus

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Cucumis africanus
Phonetic Spelling
KOO-koo-mis dip-SAK-ee-us
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Arabian Cucumber is an annual warm-season vegetable, climbing vine, with yellow flowers and yellow fruit native to tropical Africa. It has been introduced and grown in Texas and Hawaii, but is not generally grown in other states. It scribbles over the ground or uses tendrils to climb trellises or over other plants. The plant is considered invasive and has resisted most control methods.

As the fruits of the plant mature, they change from green to yellow and contain many seeds.The plant is normally found in the wild, but has been domesticated. In addition to the fruit harvested for consumption, the young shoots and leaves of the plant are traditionally cooked with groundnut paste and coconut milk. The plant grows best in full sun, in well-drained soil, and prefers a dry site.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

 Can become invasive There are no known methods of control.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#heat tolerant#climbing vines#edible fruits#annual vegetable#vine#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#tropical annual
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#heat tolerant#climbing vines#edible fruits#annual vegetable#vine#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#tropical annual
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cucumis
    Species:
    dipsaceus
    Family:
    Cucurbitaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Fruits are used for fodder, medicinally as an analgesic, and human consumption.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central Africa
    Distribution:
    tropical Africa, Texas, Northern Mexico, North Western South America.
    Climbing Method:
    Tendrils
    Edibility:
    Fruits, seeds and young leaves and shoots are all edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 2 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Vine
    Warm Season Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Creeping
    Prostrate
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Hairs cover the oblong fruit giving the species the nickname “hedgehog cucumber”.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are monoecious and unisexual with each plant having separate male and female flowers. The male flowers range from 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch and have three stamens. Female flowers range from 3/4 to 1 inch and have three-lobed stigmas.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves have a circular shape, trilobed and notched at the base giving the leaf a “heart” shape. The leaves grow 2-8cm long and 3-9cm wide with hairs covering both sides of the leaf surfaces (Geethakumary et al).
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stems grow to 6 feet or more with a climbing habit. Quadrangular shaped and weak.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Problems:
    Invasive Species