Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for One-seed Bur-cucumber - Sicyos angulatus   L.
Members of Cucurbitaceae:
Only member of Sicyos in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Violales » Family Cucurbitaceae
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DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains and Piedmont, as well as parts of the western and central Coastal Plain (though mostly along brownwater river floodplains there).

This species has a broad Eastern range, occurring from ME and ND south to northern FL and central TX.
AbundanceInfrequent to locally fairly common (along larger brownwater rivers) in the Mountains and Piedmont; generally rare to locally uncommon in the western and central Coastal Plain, where limited mainly to the Roanoke and Cape Fear rivers. Absent from the coastal region of the state.
HabitatThis is a wetland species, found essentially in rich bottomlands, almost strictly in brownwater situations. It grows in openings and along margins of bottomland forests and in damp thickets.
PhenologyBlooms from August to frost, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a robust herbaceous vine, climbing to about 8-9 feet long. The leaves are alternate and somewhat large, having 3 principal triangular lobes, with small side lobes; the leaf base is broadly cordate. Each leaf, somewhat resembling those of many grape (Vitis) species, is about 5-6 inches wide and long. A long tendril and a tight cluster of male or female flowers, on a long stalk, are opposite each leaf. The male flowers and female flowers are somewhat similar, being white to cream, with 5 triangular lobes and a spread of about 2/3-inch -- quite star-shaped. The fruits are in tight clusters, each bur-like with spines and ovoid in shape, about 1/2-inch long. Note that the somewhat similar Echinocystis, of the New River floodplain in NC, has a single large bur, over 1-inch long, instead of a cluster of smaller burs; and that species has 6-parted flowers instead of 5 in Sicyos.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Bur-cucumber, Star-cucumber
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorriePiedmont, narrow terrace of Deep River, E of Glendon. 15 Sept 2020. MoorePhoto_natural
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