Field Facts: Burcucumber

Something went wrong. Please try again later...

  • Common name: Burcucumber
  • Scientific name: Sicyos angulatus
  • Grass or broadleaf: summer annual broadleaf
  • Native to the United States
  • Resembles a cultivated cucumber
  • Burcucumber can be identified by its hairy, heart-shaped leaves and long vines.1 
  • Burcucumber has separate male and female flowers (monoecious) that are white to pale yellow in color.2
  • Burcucumber develops forked tendrils, which can wrap around and climb up whatever the weed is able to reach, to attain sunlight.1 Vines can spread up to 25 feet and twine around corn plants. The weight of the vines can lodge corn, making it difficult to harvest.3
  • The fruit on the plant are typically produced in clusters of three to 20 and resemble cucumbers covered with bristles.4
  • The weed is typically found in low-lying areas near creeks and rivers, but it can be found on upland areas.

Fast facts

  • When burcucumber grows in direct competition of soybeans, it can reduce yield up to 48 percent.1
  • Burcucumber plants emerging in June can produce up to 42,000 seeds per plant.2
  • The hard seed coat the weed produces contributes to the prolonged seed dormancy, which means that fields infested with burcucumber will have a lasting seed reservoir in the soil and the potential for a burcucumber problem for many years.4
  • Burcucumber can germinate and emerge from soil depths up to 6 inches.4

Burcucumber control/
management tips

David Hillger, Ph.D., Enlist™ field specialist, says:

  • To control burcucumber, follow a weed management program that includes residual herbicides and timely applications.
  • Farmers should look at their weed spectrum and select products that have the most effectiveness on their troublesome weeds. For burcucumber, if the selected postemergence product can be tank mixed with a residual product, farmers may want to consider this treatment for a final postemergence application.
  • At harvest, farmers should take care not to transport seed from an infested area to other parts of their fields or other locations. Farmers and retailers should initially bypass those areas in the field with the combine, return to them at the end of harvest and then follow with a thorough cleaning of the combine.
  • Use no-till in fields affected with burcucumber seeds. No-till allows burcucumber seeds to remain toward the surface, reducing the amount of time the seeds can germinate.

Additional information:

More information can be found through these weed science resources:

1 University of Missouri. 2014. Weed of the month: Burcucumber (Sicyos angulatus), An Agronomic Pest on the Increase. 
2 Purdue University. 2005. Identifying and Controlling Burcucumber. 
3 Purdue University Extension. 2011. Study to determine best management strategy for burcucumber in corn.
4 Pennsylvania State University. 1997. Managing Burcucumber in Agronomic Crops.