Cucumis sativus

Cucumber

About

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. The cucumber originates from South Asia, more particularly in India. The plant’s cultivation history goes back some 3000 years and it is now being produced on most continents. Cucumbers are a creeping vine plant that produces an elongated, cylindrical fruit that may become as long as 60 cm or 24 inches long and 10 cm or 3.9 inches in diameter. The vine has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruits. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and seedless. The seeded varieties, used for slicing and pickling, required pollination from bee pollinators. Cucumbers have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers appear first and female flowers appear shortly after. Most current cucumber hybrids are gynoecious and produce predominantly female flowers. Monoecious varieties are planted along with these gynoecious varieties for pollination.

Because each cucumber flower is open only for one day, pollination is critical fruit production. One or more pollen grains are needed per seed, and insufficient seed development may result in fruit abortion, misshapen fruit, curved or short fruit, or poor fruit set. Cucumbers develop from flowers and their seed develop within the fruit, therefore in botanical terms they are classified as berries. However, like tomatoes and squash, cucumbers are often regarded, prepared and eaten as vegetables. More than 90% of a cucumber is water.

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