Creeping Cucumber is a perennial vine with leaves that are palmately lobed - like a hand with pointed tips. The largest leaves, near the base of the plant, are about 2-inches long. The leaves grow smaller towards the tip of the vine. Like other members in the family, it has curly tendrils to grab other plants for support. The vines can reach many feet long and form mats or spiderweb-like drapes. The flowers are yellow and very small with five petals. Its preferred habitat is along the edges of marshes, sandy roadsides, low woods, parking lot shrubs, and almost any fence.
Unfortunately for many Florida gardeners the common cucumber, Cucumis sativus is a challenge to grow in a low input organic garden. Melothria pendula is a relative of the common cucumber with similar taste and uses, although all are miniatures of the standard. The Creeping cucumber thrives in our hot, wet, and humid conditions. The small grape sized fruits resemble a mini watermelon, and should only be consumed when immature and green. As the fruit matures the skin becomes soft and turns a dark green black, at this state the fruit is not fit for consumption and has been linked to stomach upset and laxative effects. At the green or light green immature stage the creeping cucumber taste like a pleasantly tart common cucumber, almost as if the fruit has been pickled. Most commonly found along low woodland edges, fences, marsh edges, and other open or disturbed areas, this species can also be grown as a garden vegetable and does best with a climbing support such as a trellis, fence, or small open tree.