Cucumis dipsaceus (hedgehog cucumber, wild spiny cucumber) is an annual climbing herb native to tropical eastern Africa. The plant gets its common name from its distinctive fruit, which is a small, spiny cucumber-like berry. It has been used for fodder, medicine, and human consumption, and has been introduced to and naturalized in many tropical regions of the world, including the Americas, Australia, and Pacific Islands. It is now naturalized on all the main Hawaiian Islands, but is primarily a weed of low elevation, disturbed sites. Where established, it may compete with or smother other desirable vegetation and may host pathogens of other cultivated crops.
High Risk Traits:
- Thrives and spreads in regions with tropical climates
- Naturalized on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, and elsewhere in the tropics
- A common weed of dry disturbed sites, pastures, rangelands, old fields and roadsides.
- A potential agricultural and environmental weed, although impacts have generally not been explicitly quantified.
- Other Cucumis species are invasive weeds
- An alternate host of Zucchini yellow mosaic potyvirus, an isolate of papaya ringspot potyvirus, and cucumber mosaic cucumovirus.
- Fruit may be poisonous under certain conditions.
- Smothering growth habit.
- Reproduces by seeds.
- An annual, capable of reaching maturity in one growing season.
- Seeds reported to be dispersed by birds and other animals, potentially as a soil and crop contaminant, and through intentional cultivation.
Low Risk Traits:
- Generally regarded as an innocuous weed of disturbed habitats, rather than a serious weed of crops or intact natural ecosystems.
- Unarmed (no spines, thorns, or burrs). “Spines” on fruit are not harmful.
- Leaves and fruits are used as a source of animal fodder.
- Reported to be non-toxic to most animals.
- Grows best in high light environments (dense shade may inhibit spread)