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Len Harris/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

Echinocystis lobata is an herbaceous vine with numerous white 6-petaled flowers and fruits that look a little like a tiny watermelon with spines. The comparison is reasonable because it is in the same family as watermelons, pumpkins, squash, gourds and cucumbers.

Each fruit produces 4 large seeds similar to the familiar pumpkin or squash seeds commonly planted in gardens. It is an annual species so each year the seeds germinate and grow to impressive size before flowering in late July or early August. When the fruit matures the lower end of the pendulous fruit opens to drop the seeds and the plants die with the advent of freezing weather.

Echinocystis lobata grows nearly throughout the eastern U.S.A. and southern Canada. In Wisconsin it is found throughout the state on wet sites, both sunny and shaded and sometimes on more mesic sites on disturbed soil.

Len Harris blogs from the "Heart" of Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Len's passion is small stream trout fishing with every legal means possible. When trout season is closed he writes and takes photos. He even dabbles in a little cooking. Read more of Lenís writing on his blog at http://lenharris.blogspot.com/.

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