MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since Friday, WCCO has received more than a dozen emails and Facebook messages wanting to learn more about a light green vine growing along the highways, climbing fences and appearing to choke trees.
“They looked a little alien,” said Kern Hough, of Eagan, who saw it travelling to Mora on Interstate 35 over the weekend. “They reminded me sort of ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'”
From Delano to Brownton to Forest Lake to Morris, it’s all over Minnesota. And every year, University of Minnesota Extension Educator Angela Gupta gets calls about it.
“We’ve even said we should write a blog post before it happens,” Gupta said.
The vine is wild cucumber. Its flowers have popped in the last week, which is why Minnesotans have started to notice it.
It gets its name from its fruit, which looks less like a cucumber and more like a mini watermelon with spikes.
“It isn’t invasive because it’s native, but it’s often considered a weed,” Gupta said.
She suspects people are noticing it more this year because it’s been a good growing season, meaning more of the vine might be growing.
Many of the emailers have worried it’s choking out the plants and vegetation around it. Gupta says that shouldn’t be a concerned because it’s not only flimsy, but it’s an annual that dies every fall.
“It doesn’t actually tend to do much damage,” she said. “If that’s the only thing out there, I would really be surprised if it killed anything.”
She recommends just leaving the wild cucumber alone, but if it’s shading out your plants or gardens, hand pull it from the root.
Gupta says spraying herbicide on the vine will also end up killing the other things around it.