The Creeping cucumber is from the vine family Cucurbitaceae. It is also known by the name Guadeloupe cucumber and has several scientific names including Melothria nashii, Melothria nigra, Melothria guadalupensis, Melothria microcarpa, Melothria fluminenses, and Melothria edulis among others.
The Creeping cucumber is a perennial which means it lives for two years or longer.This vine is quite fragile. It is a climbing vine with a long, smooth thin stem.The leaves alternate and can grow up to two and three quarter inches long. The leaves become smaller gradually as they grow closer to the end of the vine. The bottoms have a sticky quality that clings somewhat like velcro. Each leaf has pointed tips, shallowly or deeply five lobed and is toothed around the edges. They are somewhat heart shaped.
The flower grows up to three tenths of an inch wide and has five regular parts.The blooms are yellow and they first appear as early as late spring. The four to five petal of the flower are funnel shaped.They continue blooming into early fall. In the state of Florida the Creeping cucumber blooms all throughout the year due to the favorable weather conditions. There are curly tendrils on the vines that help it grab and cling to other plants.The vines can grow up to three feet in length or longer. The flowers are bisexual and its form is symmetrical.
The fruit of the Creeping cucumber is perhaps the most interesting thing about the vine. It looks like a very small watermelon.The fruit grows to be only about four tenths of an inch in length. It can be eaten but is slightly toxic and can cause extreme diarrhea because of its strong laxative qualities.The fruit is green to black in color and has white seeds. When the berry is opened, it smells like an unripe watermelon. The fruit has three ovaries with several seeds in each one. The seeds are white with a thin greenish membrane covering,The berry is more toxic when it is overripe and has turned to a black or purple color.
The preferred habitats of the Creeping cucumber include thickets at swamp edges, hammocks, thinly forested woods, low lying field, and roadsides. Disturbed grounds often have the Creeping cucumber vines growing in large quantities.They grow in a range that reaches into the southeastern areas of the United States and as far north as southern Kansas. They all the way to Pennsylvania in the east and of course, south to Florida.