Wild Balsam-apple, Wild Cucumber

Echinocystis lobata

Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Echinocystis (ak-in-oh-SIS-tiss) (Info)
Species: lobata (low-BAH-tuh) (Info)



Vines and Climbers

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Story City, Iowa

Oxford, Maine

Pikesville, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Milan, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Shevlin, Minnesota

Milford, New Hampshire

Newport, New Hampshire

Deposit, New York

Tupper Lake, New York

Mifflintown, Pennsylvania

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Verona, Wisconsin

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 14, 2015, cacatua26 from Story City, IA wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants, and every spring when we get a good warm stretch these lusty two leafed sprouts pop out of the ground, sometimes with disastrous results if it turns bitterly cold again. So I go out and rescue several of them if it looks like that might happen.

I do have trouble with vine borers getting into them, which shows up about the time they are blooming and sprawled all over the place, but there are always a few that survive and make those giant watermelon-like seeds. The flower spikes are very attractive and have a lovely fragrance. I was amazed to see the plant classified as a weed. That's just plain wrong in my opinion.


On Apr 10, 2014, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I first encountered this plant in the plot next to my home in Milford NH in 1985. I thought the flowers and the "bur cucumbers" were very interesting. I've been out of NH since 1999 and hadn't encountered it anywhere in NJ or MD since, so I ordered seeds, stratified them and planted them with heat on the 6th. They sprouted on the 10th (today)!

I'm starting a natural garden along my low chain-link fence that surrounds my front yard here in the Baltimore area, and it will be joined by virgins bower, which I also first encountered wild in NH.

I think that both are on MD's list of undesirables, but I'll keep them under control.

I'll keep you posted.


On May 13, 2012, nydude from Tupper Lake, NY wrote:

my grandmother used to call this plant "dutchmans breeches": because if you remove the seeds and outer skin you're left with what looks like a little pair of pants...


On Jun 19, 2008, grik from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I haven't actually grown this in my garden because its in the woods nearby. However nobody here mentioned that it smells wonderful in the fall when it blooms. It perfumes the area where it grows. There are a dearth of scented vines in the north.

I took some cuttings this year. Out of 10 cuttings with rooting hormone I only have 1 that rooted. The roots look great but the top looks terrible. Not sure the cutting will generate growth from its nice roots. :(


On Oct 6, 2006, gerrylondon from London, England,
United Kingdom wrote:

This plant, in Fall, indeed looks like strings of Chinese lanterns hanging in a tree; the fruits are so exotically beautiful to me. When I saw it growing wild climbing all over a fallen conifer by a river in Toronto, I was amazed. A neighbour says they are plentiful in Northern Ontario. I find it marvellous that a member of the Squash family grows wildly, as an annual, even in hard frost zones. The wild plant is supposed to be inedible (I don't know about the seeds though, which look as meaty as a pumpkin seed) . I can't understand why this plant cannot be bred either for ornament or edibility. The plant has been studied botanically and ecologically, from what I have seen on the net.


On Dec 9, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

Wild cucumber reminds me of those gorgeous strings of Chinese paper lanterns only they are green instead of red.

This is a fast growing North American native annual vine that is occasionally used for trellises because of its attractive foliage and somewhat understated blooms in late summer to early fall.

If you want to try to collect seed from this plant, watch it like a hawk. Evidently somebody out there actually measured the speed at which seeds were expelled from the seed balls and they were clocked at almost 25mph. Seems as if the instant the pods dry, hydrostatic pressure pushes them out of the seed ball. I actually tried to wait to see this happen and haven't been afforded the luxury of witnessing seed spitting seed balls but not for lack of trying se... read more