A week ago, I wrote about my discovery of the native plant Echinocystis lobata, the wild cucumber. This morning, the specimen I collected shared with me a little surprise. Though I had severed the fruit from the vine, it remained alive, developing as it ordinarily would, given that this time do year, vines in the squash family die back anyway.
The spiny little gourd split open, but not just in a random kind of rupture. Its skin peeled back from the end opposite its attachment to the vine. This is the end that would be pointing down if the fruit was still hanging where it had grown. Inside the fruit, two chambers were revealed, each with a ripe seed, ready to drop out and hit the ground. It’s a kind of bomb bay doors method of seed dispersal that I have never seen before.