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Himalayan Creeping Cucumber   
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Himalayan Creeping Cucumber
P Native Photo: Thingnam Rajshree
Common name: Himalayan Creeping Cucumber
Botanical name: Solena heterophylla    Family: Cucurbitaceae (Pumpkin family)
Synonyms: Bryonia sagittata, Zehneria heterophylla

Himalayan Creeping Cucumber is a climber with stem and branches hairless. Leaf-stalks are slender, 4-10 mm. Leaves are very variable, ovate, oblong, ovate-triangular, or arrow-shaped, undivided or 3-5-lobed, leathery, 8-12 x 1-5 cm, below densely bristly or almost hairless, above densely bristly or scabrous, base heart-shaped, margin entire or toothed, tip blunt or tapering. Tendrils are slender. Male flowers borne in umbels, on very short flower-cluster-stalks, 10-20-flowered. Flower-stalks are 2-8 mm; calyx tube 3-5 mm, about 3 mm in diameter; segments slender pointed, 0.2-0.4 mm. Flowers are yellow or yellow-white; petals triangular, 1-1.5 mm, tip blunt or pointed; filaments thread-like, about 3 mm. Female flowers are usually solitary; flower-stalk 2-10 mm, finely velvet-hairy; calyx and flower as in male flowers. Fruit is red-brown, broadly ovoid, oblong, or nearly spherical, 2-6 x 2-5 cm. Himalayan Creeping Cucumber is a found in mixed forests, thickets, grasslands, roadsides, mountain slopes, at altitudes of 600-2600 m, in NE Afghanistan, Himalayas to Bhutan and SE Asia. It is also widely found in rest of India. Flowering: May-August.

Photographed in Cherapunjee, Meghalaya & Govindghat-Ghangria route, Uttarakhand.

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