Nature Study: Cucumber Weed

Amidst all the insanity of the world these days (what with COVID-19 forcing social distancing and grocery stores scrambling to keep up with demand), I’ve noticed that the natural world around us just keeps marching on, oblivious to the chaos being created by us humans.  Spring is still arriving; flowers are still blooming; buds are still forming.  It’s a lovely time to be outdoors.

This little plant is everywhere right now (at least down here in South Texas).  It’s little and overlooked and I almost yanked a handful out of my garden before I realized what it was!  It gets its nickname from the smell it leaves behind on your fingers after rubbing and crushing the leaves.  Parietaria pensylvanica, its botanical name is derived from the Latin word paries which came from the Greek word parifi meaning edge because it’s often seen growing in cracks.  It’s also commonly called Pellitory Over-the-Wall.

Cucumber weed (Parietaria pensylvanica) is an annual member of the Nettle family that appears when the weather is cool.  Its simple, lanceolate leaves alternate up the stem almost spiraling as they go due to the way their square stems twist.

It is important to note that cucumber weed leaves are smooth along the edges with tiny hairs (not to be confused with plants in the Acalypha genus whose leaves have toothed edges and lack hairs…those are toxic mimics!)

Cucumber weed has adorable tiny flowers which attach directly to the stem.  The flowers are green and hairy and lack petals.

Cucumber weed is edible but proceed with caution.  There’s a chance you could react to the plant.  Aside from being edible, it’s also useful…in its entirety, it can be used to clean glass and copper.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

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