California man-root or
California wild cucumber
According to Clifton Smith’s A flora of the Santa Barbara region, and CalFlora we have two species of Marah in Santa Barbara. M. macrocarpus is more likely to be found to the south and east, while M. fabaceus can be found all over the county.However, Smith warns that what we actually see, south of the Coast Range is a strange mixture of both. Jepson says that the two can be distinguished by:
• M. fabaceus: flattened flower, fruit prickles unhooked, 4 seeds/fruit
• M. macrocarpus: flower cup-shaped, fruit prickles hooked, 8-14 seeds/fruit
Smith says that M. macrocarpus is “larger in all aspects”. I have found plants where some flowers are flattened disks, and others are cup-shaped. I have found large flattened flowers, and small cup-shaped flowers. Some plants with flat flowers have hooked prickles, and some cup-shaped flowers have straight prickles.
The top flower, appears to me to be a flattened disk, while the bottom one appears cup-shaped.
Basically, we’ve got more hybrids than true species representatives.