What is this plant with the prickly fruit?
Cannot even identify this plant in which category to put it ))) Is it a vegetable or herb? )) Please, help me to find out the name of this interesting plant. The leaves looked to me like the leaves of some vegetable (type of cucumber or squash maybe). But the fruit is interesting , small and has many prickles or needles. Do you know what it is? Is it edible?
I saw it in the wild.
Wild cucumber vine is quite attractive and some gardeners consider it worthy of ornamental status. The flowers of the prickly cucumber smell great too. But to most gardeners, however, wild cucumber plants are weeds. Wild cucumber can create very dense, large patches, seeming to smother everything it covers but rarely doing much actual damage.
Wild cucumber has both male and female flowers on the same plant.
Is wild cucumber fruit edible? Unfortunately not. Echinocystis lobata is not edible.
Although wild cucumbers are related to the familiar, domestic vegetable, the prickly cucumber fruit is not fleshy and consists of two seed chambers containing lacy netting. There are four large seeds in the netting. When the fruit ripens, the seeds drop to the ground to begin a new vine.
photo from http://www.biolib.cz/
As far as I know, wild cucumber vine likes moist areas and is often found near ponds, streams, or in moist meadows or bottomland. However, the vine can pop up in typically dry areas when rainfall levels are higher than average.
Also, I’ve heard, that the fruit is not edible, but the tender leaves and tips are and they taste great stir-fried (with a little garlic and salt). Many Asian people eat them and even sell them, as they resemble Ivy Gourd (Tindora) plants in appearance and taste. But I’ve never tasted them, so better to see if someone else answers who really did eat the leaves and tips of the wild cucumber.
It is Echinocystis lobata, commonly called wild cucumber, prickly cucumber, orbalsam apple. Echinocystis lobata is an annual vine native across North America. It is found in forty U.S. states (excluding Nevada, Hawaii, and Alaska; and most of the far Southeastern states); and nine Canadian provinces.
You can find Echinocystis lobata in Europe as well.