You are here:

Vines/Help to find this vine that my mom had years ago


I asked a question on here last year in Sept. 2013 About Avon that my mother had in the 70's I was getting ready to order this vine and it's not the one that she had. I was told on here that it was a Chinese bitter cucumber And it is not Here is the question again. ( It grows 10 to 12 feet As a climbing vine The leaves kinda looks like oak leaves with rounded edges like they have The seed pod kind of looks like an egg An oval shape It is probably 3 to 4 inches around the seed pod and it is about 4 to 5 inches long an is real dark green When the pod get ripe It turns orange inside and out And it breaks open on the opposite end from where it is connected to the vine all on its own The edges of the seed pod just kind of opened back like a flower opens up And has black seeds about the size of a quarter. Want u dry the seat and peel the meaty black skin off of them They have the same shape thickness and color As a gourd seed has. We were told it was called a Korean vine. IT IS NOT THE CHINESR BITTER CUCUMBER. Thank you in advance for your help

Balloon Vine #1
Balloon Vine #1  

Balsam Apple #1
Balsam Apple #1  
Dear Danny,
I am sorry that someone (not I) misled you last year about the type of vine your mother had 40 years ago. I wish I had a picture, though I do appreciate your detailed description. You mentioned that the seeds are black, so it is more likely that your mom had the SECOND of the two plants I describe below. Just to make sure, though, you could Google images of both of them to compare. I am attaching some for your convenience.

1. Balsam-apple (Momordica charantia L.)
Sometimes called a Balsam pear or even Bitter Melon, this is a tendril-bearing annual vine native to the tropical regions of Africa, introduced and invasive in Asia, Australia, and Central America. It has pale yellow, deeply veined flowers and round, somewhat warty, bright orange fruits, or "apples". When ripe, the fruits burst apart, revealing numerous deep red seeds covered with a sticky coating. In 1810, Thomas Jefferson planted this vine in his flower borders at Monticello along with larkspur, poppies, and nutmeg.

But since you did say that the seeds are black, the MORE LIKELY candidate, however is:

2. Balloon Vine (or Heart Seed Vine) - (Cardiospermum grandiflorum)

This vine is native to tropical Americas, West Indies and Africa, and it is named for its fruits, which are bright orange/yellow capsules that have pointed tips. When they are mature, these capsules ("balloons") split open and release the black seeds.

Some people regard balloon vine as a weed, as it can get fairly invasive in the landscape if not controlled. To prevent it from taking over in your garden, you want to make sure none of the seeds reach the ground where they can germinate or where birds can eat them (to "drop" them later in a less convenient spot!).

Because this plant is regarded as an invasive/weed, you may have difficulty finding it for sale in local nurseries, although you might find it online. Try this site:

If you do grow this plant, I recommend growing it in a pot (again, to prevent it from smothering other plants). You don't say where you live, but unless you live in the deep south, this vine will probably not overwinter unless you cut it back and bring it inside.  

I hope this helps, Danny, let me know how your search goes!  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Kathleen Franklin


I can answer all kinds of questions about vines that thrive in most U.S. soils/climates, though I am more knowledgeable about Zones 4-8. I am a huge fan of vines (even the sort of "Look out, Martha, here it comes again" varieties), especially wisteria, climbing hydrangea, Carolina jessamine, and (invasive though it is) English Ivy. I grow them all, and would love to share what I've learned with you!


I am a certified, active Master Gardener in Maryland (Montgomery County) and have six+ years experience working at a local garden nursery. I've been gardening for more than 20 years and have done consulting work for many residential homeowners on all aspects of gardening and garden design.

Maryland Master Gardeners Friends of Brookside Gardens Nature Conservancy

I have authored numerous nature and gardening-related articles for publications ranging from Audubon Naturalist News to Washington Gardener magazine.

I have taken courses in Integrated Pest Management, perennials, shrubs, and vines.

©2017 All rights reserved.