Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Prickly Cucumber Music (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

8 November finds me peering into the bell mouth of the seed capsule of Prickly Cucumber the size of a small chicken egg, one of thousands on their stringy vines with twirly tendrils, matting the long grass into an Echinocystis blanket over a fence along the west side of Mill Street in Bishops Mills, Ontario.

A few of the Prickly Cucumber fruits are still green and fleshy, having recently exploded their bottom ends in the act of ejecting their two large flat oval seeds. The dry capsules are pale golden bells with spines, each bell lined with the lacy double skeletons of the empty seed chambers.

At one end of the fence some of the vines decorate an Eastern White Cedar, and standing close beside it I hear the wind hissing through dry vines, its thin continuum accompanied by mysterious small clicking, ticking - a wonderful tiny percussion of Prickly Cucumber spines tickling against the scaly Cedar leaves!

1 comment:

  1. In years "in which Insects do well," this species is ravaged by sucking Squash Bugs, Anasa tristis, in various colorful nymphal colours, and their "sad" adult colours.

    Twenty-ten, however was a "Plants do well" year, and while we saw a few Squash Bugs early in the summer, they never became abundant enough to hold back the Cucumbers. The 9.5m of this blanket-like mass of stems draped over a Page-wire fence had about 100 Cucumber pods per foot, or at least 3200 pods on the whole stand. I've seen blue Jays, Cyanocitta cristata, pulling the seeds out of the unopened pods, and I expect that the ground under the vines will be completely shredded by the activities of mice over the course of the winter, as they eat up as many of the 6400 seeds as they can find.


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