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Western Wild Cucumber Marah oreganus


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Western Wild Cucumber - habit and flower
credit: Franco Folini/CCSA

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Alternate name: Coastal Manroot

Family: Cucurbitaceae, Cucumber view all from this family

Description Habit: native perennial vine; herbaceous stems climbing or creeping; from large woody root (caudex).
Height: stems to 20 ft (6 m)
Leaf: alternate, heart-shaped or palmately divided or shallowly lobed, 5-7-lobed, resembling maple leaf; 6-8 in (15-20 cm) long and wide.
Flower: white, usually 5-pointed star (rarely 6 or 8-parted), terminal, 0.25-0.5 in (6-12 mm) wide; male and female flowers on same plants.
Fruit: gourd, oval or spherical with pointed tip, to 3 in (8 cm) long; green with darker stripes, weakly spiny.

Flower March to June.

Habitat Open, well-watered sites: fields, meadows, woodland edges, clearings, deciduous forests, thickets, open coastal sites; to 6000 ft (1800 m).

Range Native to Pacific Coast, from British Columbia to California.

Discussion Also called coast manroot, oregon manroot. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas. The common name "manroot" is used for all Marah spp. in reference to their large, thick, sometimes woody tuberous root.