cucumber is the edible fruit of the cucumber plant Cucumis
sativus, which belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, as do melons and squash. The plant has
been cultivated for 3000 years and is widely cultivated today. The cucumber plant
has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground
or on trellises, often in greenhouses.
fruit, which is a vegetable in the culinary sense,
is commonly harvested while still green and is eaten raw or cooked or is made
into pickles. Cucumbers have only small
amounts of nutrients. Pickles are more nutritious than fresh cucumbers because
of the ingredients, especially dill, added during pickling.
are usually green-skinned, roughly cylindrical, elongated, with
tapered ends, and may be as large as 30 cm long and 5 cm in diameter. Cucumbers
grown to be eaten fresh (called slicers) and those intended for pickling (called
picklers) are similar. Slicers grown commercially for the North American
market are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in color, and have a tougher
skin. Slicers in other countries are smaller and have a thinner, more delicate
skin. Picklers are generally shorter and thicker.
few varieties of cucumber are parthenocarpic, the blossoms
creating seedless fruit without pollination. Pollination for
these varieties degrades the quality. In the US, these are usually grown in greenhouses,
where bees are excluded. In Europe, they are grown outdoors in some regions, and
bees are excluded from these areas. Most cuke varieties however, are seeded and
require pollination. Thousands of hives of bees are annually carried to
cucumber fields just before bloom for the purpose. Symptoms of inadequate pollination
include fruit abortion and misshapen fruit.
varieties produce male blossoms first, then female, in about equivalent numbers.
hybrid cultivars produce almost all
female blossoms. However, since these varieties do not provide pollen, they must have interplanted
a pollenizer variety and the
number of beehives per unit area is increased. Insecticide applications for
insect pests must be done very carefully to avoid killing off the insect pollinators.
are used in the decorative food art, garde
at the Plants Database (http://plants.usda.gov/) - shows classification
and distribution by US state.
information for raw (http://www.kallipolis.com/diet/food.php?id=11205&w=2)
and pickled (http://www.kallipolis.com/diet/food.php?id=11941&w=2)