In the garden this year, I planted a number of vegetables, including a bush variety of the ordinary eating cucumber. I say ordinary, even though so far that one plant has produced just short of 100 cukes! Curiously, what looks like a small cucumber or squash vine or perhaps a vine of English Ivy has grown along with it. The leaves are paper-thin, and the vine has produced what look like miniature watermelons or striped grapes. Grabbing a camera, I took photographs, and then uploaded them to Associated Content, where I posted them in the form of a slide show, entitled “What Kind of Plant or Weed Is This?”
An Answer Sought – An Answer Found
The slideshow brought immediate responses, but none of them provided a satisfactory answer. In the meantime, I was searching every conceivable site to ascertain what the plant was, when I stumbled upon an organization to which I once belonged – the Virginia Native Plant Society. Finding that site, I decided to contact a familiar name to me-that of the Vice President, Nicky Staunton. Referring her to my slide show, I soon heard back. She told me the plant was a new one for her as native to Virginia, and that it was the Guadeloupe Cucumber, Melothria pendula.
The Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) Responds
Nicky’s email informed me not only of the name of the plant, but, “it is listed in Illinois as Threatened; Indiana as Extirpated; and in Maryland as an Endangered species.” She also informed me that the plant is not yet listed for Nelson County, Virginia, and that I might wish “report it to Tom Wieboldt at the Massey Herbarium in Blacksburg.” Lastly, she indicated I might be the first person to report it to the county, and so I could be listed by the Virginia Botanical Associates as the person first reporting it. Although this isn’t of essential importance to me, it might be nice, as my son and I once were the first to report a moth in nearby Albemarle County, Virginia, and so I would be associated with Virginia flora as well as its fauna.
References and Resources:
Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences – The Massey Herbarium
Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora – Virginia Botanical Associates