F o r e s t   C u c u m b e r

This plant of the forest floor grows in the "sun-spaces" in the forest that are often created when a big tree falls or dies. Sun-loving plants like the forest cucumber grow rapidly in these gaps until young trees growing nearby fill them in.

The cucumber's fruits turn yellow to red when ripe and are eaten by many animals. The animals help disperse the seeds throughout the forest in their dung.

Like many forest plants, the 800 different kinds of forest squash and forest cucumbers that grow in the light gaps contain protective chemicals. Forest cucumbers contain cucurbitacins, some of the most bitter compounds known. If eaten by humans they can cause nausea, severe cramps, and prolonged diarrhea.