This fuzzy, climbing annual will grow in shady, moist areas. It can put out runners that extend up to 25 feet across the ground. Often, it climbs over shrubs and small trees using thin tendrils to anchor it to branches as it ascends. The growth habit is much like a grape vine.
At first glance, the plant closely resembles a garden-variety cucumber plant. The 5-petalled flowers are greenish-white and are borne in clusters. The small, cucumber-shaped fruits that result in September will also be clustered and covered with bristles.
There is another plant that resembles this one–it is called wild cucumber. That species has 6-petalled flowers, smooth stems (not hairy), and forms single fruits.
The greenish white flowers of bur cucumber
Here’s what puts the “burr” in bur cucumber! You can almost imagine these are small cucumbers, right?
Here is bur cucumber climbing over a shrub in September
Flowering stalks reach above the leaves in September
Tendrils reach and grab as the plant seeks to climb toward the sun
The tendrils anchor the plant and allow it to climb toward the sunlight. Note the clusters of fruits covered by bristles.
Bur Cucumber “runs” across the ground and over bushes
Flower of Bur Cucumber
Greenish-white flowers, hairy stems
In September, bur cucumber covers shrubs in wet areas
Leaf of Bur Cucumber
The flowering stalks and tendrils of bur cucumber