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What Is This Vine With White Flowers & Cactus-like Seed Pod

Ask the Expert: What is it?
we have a crawling vine on our fence that looks like a maple leaf but has little white flowers and it has little cactus looking plums on it? grows really quickly. Deline

California Vine With Small White Flowers

Coast Wild Cucumber

Vine and prickly seed pod

Marah fabaceus Seed Pod

Flower Shop Network‘s Plant Expert:
It looks like a member of the wild cucumber family which is the Marah genus.

I think this particular plant is a Marah fabaceus. It is commonly called California manroot, Coast wild cucumber, Manroot, wild cucumber and bigroot. The plant is found throughout California. Although the Marah genus can be found in various parts of the country, the Marah fabaceus is endemic (limited) to California alone.

It is consider a perennial vine and a herb.  The prickly fruit may resemble cucumbers, but is not edible. It has a very bitter taste.

Native Californians used this fruit medicinally. The Kumeyaay people use the crushed tubers of this plant to aid in fishing. They throw the crushed tubers in the water to immobilize the fish.

This plant identification was brought to you by the local florists in San Francisco.


  1. I too have this plant growing in my yard. I live in the Northeast and have been trying to identify it as well…

    Attached Image: DSCN1185.jpg

  2. I live in central New York near Cooperstown. This summer a green vine, that has small white flowers and a spikey pod grew all over my pine tree. I have cut open one of the pods. I have never seen anything like this where I live before. I read you can’t eat it, but the retired old salt will be delited to hear how it is used in fishing. Is the variety found in New York the same as in California?

    Attached Image: DSC00545.jpg

  3. It looks like a wild cucmber. Take a look at this post (wild cucumber) and see if your vine is similar.

  4. I have been looking for what kind of vine this is. I found it growing all over trees in a park along the river in Jamestown, North Dakota.

  5. Great Cheryl, glad you found this helpful!

  6. We have a plant that looks pretty much just like that in Wisconsin, but it is not from the Marah genus. It is Echinocystis lobata, or Wild Cucumber. It envelopes many plants along the roadways and edges of the woods and is, in my opinion, very invasive!

  7. I live in northern SD and I love my vine, only hope it comes back next year

  8. This is the third year this vine presented itself in and among my hosta. At first I thought it might be some kind of pumpkin or squash as we leave our decaying fall decor for the squirrels and chipmunks to snack on. This is the first year we see the spiny fruits, as I usually pull it out once it starts to wind itself around everything in its path. We’re in New England so I was surprised to learn that it is native to California. I think it might be a good idea to locate the tuber and destroy it. After reading the other comments it certainly seems that it could eventually become a bit of a nightmare. Peace, y’all!

  9. We have this vine all the way up in Rimbey, Alberta, Canada! It’s growing a long way from home very happily!

  10. I have this growing in Maine it seems to be taking over my Maple and elderberry bushes.

  11. We have had this vine growing in our Michigan yard for years so I guess by all the other comments it is no longer limited to Calif.

  12. I to am from Michigan. We have had this plant growing in Michigan for over 40 years. I remember playing with the green pods as a child. They grew in a swampy area behind our house. Brought back memories seeing this picture.

  13. I want to know if the shoots which look a bit like asparagus are edible?

  14. Sara,

    I don’t believe this is an edible plant.

  15. Found growing in Regina Saskatchewan, Canada.

  16. Also found growing in Shubenacadie Nova Scotia, Canada

  17. Pam Ecker - Rooster Hill Heirlooms says:

    I have this vine growing all over my herb garden. Has taken over my large tarragon plants. Wanted to see what it was, so I left it go…now there are the small cactus like pods forming, I live in Northern Maryland and have no clue as to where it came from other than one of my plants (bought at garden center) must have had seeds in the soil. After reading other’s remarks…it seems to be pretty much useless and ultimately invasive. It is being pulled out and trashed tomorrow:)

  18. Found in Winnipeg, Mb, Canada as well.. such a curious species!

  19. Kathy Foye says:

    Found this vine in Augusta, Maine! Interesting plant.

  20. Valerie Lyons says:

    Portland, Oregon. Helping a friend clean up an overgrown yard. This vine was wrapped up several of his tress. Super long vines. He said it grows super fast. Fortunately it doesn’t have thorns along the vine, just the seed pods. Thanks, now I know what it is from your list! Wild inedible cucumber plant! Will do our best to prevent it from taking over the trees and his yard!

  21. Terry Wysocki says:

    So how to destroy this pest? It covers my trees then dies off leaving ugly brown mess. I’ve traced roots back to 6-12 shoots coming out of the ground. How deep do I have to dig to get to the source. Is it killable?

  22. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Terry,
    They best way to get rid of these vines are to pull them as soon as you notice them. You can also mow them. The goal is to not let them make it to seed so that they will not continue to come back.

  23. Found in Annapolis Valley Nova Scotia

  24. Donna Foote says:

    i found it growing aggressively in my yard in New Glasgow, N.S. Happy it is not poisonous! It is in blossom, will eliminate it before it spreads.

  25. Adam Lopez says:

    Found this here in Brant Michigan

  26. Daethal Dockter says:

    found next to my back garden, north of Milbank S.D.

  27. Also in Amherst , NS

  28. Found at the tip top of maine drying the seeds now

  29. I have a veggie garden in biddeford Maine and knew damn well this was nothing I planted but all of a sudden it was intertwine into my garden.kind of bummed to find out it doesn’t have a better use for me but I do think I will use the giant brown seeds in various crafts .I suppose I’m just glad to know it’s not poisonous as I have 6 grandchildren that ate from that garden all summer

  30. We got them here in Colorado….Thanks California smh

  31. Anonymous says:

    yeah they arent endemic to california alone, we have them all along the sides of our bike paths here in eugene, Oregon.

  32. Krista C says:

    I have a plant that looks very similar to this in my yard in Oregon. Here’s a picture of it: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HmriFE4oLcQT657c9

  33. They are running rapid in SW MN. Must like the wet weather we had this spring and am told they do not like to grow in groves. I have seen where they consume the evergreen trees so thick that they kill them off over a few years. It has to be destroyed!!! It is now growing in ditches and on fenses…

  34. My boyfriend pulled some out without gloves and then broke out in small bumps and a very bad rash… Could it be the cause of it

  35. Laura Jonson says:

    This stuff is awful and spreading fast in Minnesota.

  36. Jamie Woods says:

    It’s very possible!

  37. Caroline Connor says:

    Just moved to WV from RI( never seen it in RI). Noticed this stuff just appearing about 1 week ago. Thought maybe my dogs went to the bathroom in that spot ( after digesting a cucumber). Lol . So this thread made me think other wise. I should get rid of it then? Is it dangerous if my animals eat it?

  38. Please help. I have this vine and lived it because it was si fragrant. I have dogs and you g kids is it poison?

  39. Miroslava Casiano says:

    Some varieties can be toxic if ingested. Our advice would be to keep your furry friends and children away from it :)

  40. “Like your foto :D”


  42. Tara Gibb says:

    I just pulled one that was wrapped around a tree in bout yard and the part that touched me gave me a stinging rash with blisters. I will try to pull them while they are small from now on and not let them touch my skin.

  43. We have them in central NY. I LOVE THEM the flowers are fragrant! I find the the blue jays LOVE the seeds that are in the pods!

    No if I can just get my husband and Son to stop weed wacking them down…lol