Coast man-root is a large, vigorous perennial wildflower or vine that gets its common name from the fact that the tuberous root systems can be so large, they are like the size of a person, and can weigh as much as well. Coast man-root can vine or scramble along the ground up to 20 feet in length under ideal conditions. The plant does have tendrils, so if it has something to climb up on it will.
It will grow more vigorously near water sources or in wet areas, but is also very drought tolerant, but shouldn’t be grown in areas with less than 15″ of rain a year. In areas with mild weather and year-round moisture, like the Pacific coast, Coast man-root can stay green all year; however, more often in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, and in areas with cold winters, the plant dies back to the ground completely in late summer to fall, going dormant until emerging again in early spring. You will find Coast man-root growing naturally in a wide variety of habitat types, from chaparral, oak woodland, pine forest, in openings in mixed conifer forests, as well as open fields, meadows, and coastal habitats. It will grow from low to high elevation, but generally not higher than 6,500′ in elevation. It can grow in full sun to part shade.
It is native to California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Coast man-root also goes by the common names western wild cucumber and Oregon bigroot. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. It has large, green, lobed leaves. The bitter, green, rounded fruit is inedible and has some large, flexible spines that don’t hurt when you touch them. The fruit is usually 1-3″ in diameter and contains a few large seeds.
Coast man-root flowers can be quite showy on a large, established plant when flowering en masses in the spring. Flowering occurs soon after the plant emerges in the spring. The flowers are generally white but can vary and take on a yellow/green or cream color as well. Coast man-root is self-fertile but is pollinated by insects, mainly native bees.
This species is deer resistant but is susceptible to native cucumber beetles. It can sometimes overwhelm nearby vegetation if allowed to climb in moist or ideal conditions, so make sure to grow Coast man-root in an area where you can give it plenty of space, or you don’t mind it sprawling over or up other nearby plants.
Coast man-root (Marah oregana) seed packets contain 5 large seeds per packet.
Seed Germination Instructions
30 days cold-moist stratification. Sow outside in fall to early winter.