bur cucumber

Bur cucumber grows on a field border near Goshen. The aggressive nature of bur cucumber can take down acres of corn or soybeans if not caught early.

Among my least favorite weeds is bur cucumber, a relative of the cucumber we enjoy on our salads and as pickles. Bur cucumber is a summer, warm temperature loving summer annual. Like its relatives in the melon family, it is viney, but it can be much more aggressive than your garden variety cucumber and is capable of taking down acres of your field.

The leaf of bur cucumber looks very similar to its domesticated cousin, being somewhat star shaped with three to five lobes that come to points. The vines themselves often reach 25 feet in length. Each plant has two separate types of flowers: males flowers that produce pollen and female flowers that produce the fruit. The fruit does not bear much resemblance to cucumber. It’s a cluster of five to 10 small, spiny green to yellow burs, and not very appetizing.

Jeff Burbrink is an educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. He can be reached at 574-533-0554 or jburbrink@purdue.edu.

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