Cucumber, Wild; Marah fabaceus
Early Bloomer. Long vine, 5 petaled star-like flower, round, green spiny fruit, medicinal seeds.
Notes: Cucumber (Gourd) family. Also called California Manroot, so named because of the distinctive shape of the large root, which can resemble the torso of a man. The long, trailing vine (as long as 15' to 20’) with large, 5-lobed leaves, can be seen both downslope and upslope from Buttermilk Bend trail, sometimes hanging from overhead rocks and other shrubs. The flowers are small greenish white, after which the fruit appear hanging from the vine. The fruit dries, browns, and splits, revealing almond-like seeds. It is said that the spiny pod develops water pressure within its covering and bursts so dramatically that the large seeds can hurt if they hit you. Native Americans roasted them as a treatment for kidney troubles. Oil from the seeds was used for hair loss. Crushed seeds were used to stun fish. A tea was drunk to treat venereal diseases. Crushed roots were mixed with sugar and used on horses for saddle sores.
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Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta -- Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta -- Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida -- Dicotyledons
Family Cucurbitaceae -- Cucumber family
Genus Marah Kellogg -- manroot
Species Marah fabaceus (Naud.) Naud. ex Greene
-- California manroot
Contains 2 Varieties and 2 accepted taxa overall
Cucumber, Wild (Marah fabaceus) -- flowering
Cucumber, Wild (Marah fabaceus) -- bearing fruit
Cucumber, Wild (Marah fabaceus) -- fruit and leaf close-up
Cucumber, Wild (Marah fabaceus) -- reaching out to grab a tree