Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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  Prairie Folklore

by Wayne Pauly from Dane County Parks ACTION Adult Conservation Team Newsletter (All folklore stories)


Wild Cucumber
Echinocystis lobata

Walk the marshes and look for the spiked pods of this vine draped about the trees and bushes. Once upon a time the prickly pods were called porcupine eggs, which left kids a little puzzled and half believing that vines produced porcupines (after all, it rhymes).

One of grandpa’s more colorful wild cucumber stories was not appreciated by grandma. He’d show the kids how to peel off the prickly cover to reveal some fancy lace which he said looked just like grandma’s expensive lace bloomers. Try it and see what you think.

In August, country kids collected plump green wild cucumbers, poked a hole in one end, aimed, and squeezed out a burst of juice, hence the old folk name “squirting cucumber”. This one shot squirt gun had a range of only six inches, a far cry from today’s long range water guns.

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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