General: Perennial vine from a large woody root; stems herbaceous, leafy, bearing tendrils.
Leaves: Alternate, to 20 cm long, shallowly lobed and cordate at base.
Flowers: White, 6-12 mm across with 5 flaring lobes (or sometimes 6-8); male flowers in racemes, female flowers mostly single in axil at base of racemes.
Fruit: Green, weakly spiny, inflated gourd-like fruits 3-8 cm long with several large seeds inside.
Western Wild Cucumber is a member of the cucumber family (family Cucurbitaceae). Cucumbers are herbs, often trailing or climbing by coiled tendrils.
First Nations: Chehalis Drug (Dermatological Aid) - Salve of root ash and grease applied to scrofula sores. Karok Drug (Dermatological Aid) - Poultice of roots applied to bruises and boils. Mendocino Indian Drug (Antirheumatic (External)) - Seeds and roots used for rheumatism or root rubbed on rheumatic joints. Mendocino Indian Drug (Dermatological Aid) - Root rubbed on rheumatic joints, boils and swellings. Mendocino Indian Drug (Poison) - Roots and seeds considered poisonous. Mendocino Indian Drug (Urinary Aid) - Seeds eaten for urinary troubles. Mendocino Indian Drug (Venereal Aid) - Seeds and roots used for rheumatism and venereal disease. Paiute Drug (Eye Medicine) - Decoction of peeled, sliced and dried root used for "sore eyes." Squaxin Drug (Analgesic) - Infusion of smashed stalks used as a soak for aching hands. Yurok Food (Beverage) - Young shoots and Polypodium rhizomes used to make tea. Mendocino Indian Other (Hunting & Fishing Item) - Roots formerly used as fish poison. Yurok Other (Toys & Games) - Fruit used by children to construct representations of animals by inserting twigs. Yurok Other (Toys & Games) - Fruit tossed by children at one another in play.
Other: Look for the mostly 5-lobed white flowers and inflated gourd-like fruits. Compare with grapes (family Vitaceae) which have woody stems and more mumerous minute unshowy flowers. Look for the mostly 5-lobed white flowers and inflated gourd-like fruits. Compare with grapes (family Vitaceae) which have woody stems and more mumerous minute unshowy flowers.
Seed sample from: 2011
Average Measurement: 16.8 x 17 x 8.5
Measurement Range: L: 15 – 18, W: 16 – 18, D: 8 – 9
Shape: Seeds very large, rounded with a pinched looking hilum.
Color: Dark brown, with a lighter brown hilum. Under high magnification seed appears speckled with black.
Surface: Seed covered in very fine velvety hairs. Under high magnification seed appears slightly glossy, but with naked eye, seed is matte.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=MAOR3&display=31 http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/pnw/pnw401.pdf http://herb.umd.umich.edu/herb/search.pl http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=MAOR3 http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Marah+oreganus]