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Plant Informational Database

South African Spiny Cucumber

Cucumis zeyheri

A wild African cucumber bearing small, spiny fruits. The fruits are generally considered inedible as they are quite bitter though some plants may produce less bitter fruits. The species is of main interest as an ornamental. Over time it will produce an interesting caudex base.

Seed Availability

Seeds are not available for the South African Spiny Cucumber. Please visit our seed store to view current selections.


Fairly fast growing vine to several feet in all directions. It is a perennial, but shoots die back out of season and grow from the woody base the following year. Like common cucumbers, this species has unisex flowers, but both male and female flowers are produced on the same plant. The fruits grow to a couple of inches and are colored green, often with off color spots. Fruits are covered in spines and ripen to a pale yellow.


Unknown frost hardiness.

Growing Environment

Growth requirements are minimal. Grow in full sun, provide adequate water for vigorous growth. Does not seem too picky about soil conditions and once established, is likely a fairly tough plant.


By seeds, which germinate fairly easily, with care similar to the common cucumber.


Usually grown as an ornamental curiosity. Being a relative of the common cucumber, these is also some interest in its genetics for potential cross breeding.

Native Range

Native from Zambia and Zimbabwe, south to South Africa. The species is relatively common in its native range.

Related Species

Cucumis metuliferus
Horned Melon
Cucumis zeyheri
South African Spiny Cucumber
Cucurbita ficifolia
Malabar Gourd
Cucurbita pepo
Spaghetti Squash
Cyclanthera explodens
Exploding Cucumber
Kedrostis leloja
Kedrostis leloja
Luffa cylindrica
Sicana odorifera