JP writes to ask about a strange cucumber plant that appeared in her garden:
“Do you happen to know this plant? I originally thought it was Coccinia grandis, the ivy gourd, also known as scarlet gourd, tindora, but the flower is much smaller and yellow.”
I admit, this one stumped me at the onset. At first I thought it was Melothria pendula, which is an occasional find in Florida (and is a good little edible), yet the fruit were too big to match any creeping cucumber I’ve ever seen.
You can see Melothria pendula in this video, starting at 3:19:
JP is right about the blooms disqualifying it as a Coccinea grandis.
The leaves look the same but the flowers are wrong. Plus, the fruit on C. grandis aren’t mottled like the ones in the picture.
A little more searching and I was able to nail it down as the “cucamelon” (Melothria scabra), which is a cucumber usually planted as a novelty by creative gardeners. It’s in the same genus as the creeping cucumber, so its very close appearance makes good sense.
As Southern Living magazine writes:
“Cucamelons are tiny, grape-sized fruits that taste like cucumbers, but with a touch of tart sourness. They look like miniature watermelons and are also known as Mexican sour gherkins, or Melothria scabra. You may also know them by their other nicknames: mouse melons, Mexican miniature watermelons, Mexican sour cucumbers, or pepquinos. Cucamelons are native to Mexico and Central America.”
It’s a pretty little fruit and a good edible, though who knows how it ended up in JP’s garden!
Now I want to grow some.