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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: What are these gourd-like things in my pasture?


QUESTION:
I have just adopted two wild mustangs and take possession of them next week. I have done everything I can to make sure that my property is safe, however, my only concern is that I have, what looks like gourd plants all over my pasture and corral. They look like small water melons. Should I weed them all out or are they a " Horse Delicacy"

ANSWER:

Where are you located? Northern California to BC somewhere, I'll bet. Size, color, shape of melons and leaves? Number and color of flower petals? There are some seriously toxic members of the cucumber family which could fit this description, but i don't know if your horse would try to eat it. Often, the fruit have little spikes on them. For example Echinocystis oregana or Marah oreganus is a vine that makes little watermelon-looking fruit. Locals call it wild cucumber, manroot or bigroot cucumber. This, or a relative of this, was used in Marin county by Indians to stun fish. The curcurbitacins from these plants can be serious poisons.