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“Regular” Indian Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)

What defines a “Regular” Cucumber?

Cucumis sativus are generally considered a green cylindrical juicy fruiting vegetable that grows on vines in the warm season. Like other cucurbits, they are generally monoecious, “bearing staminate and pistillate flowers on the same plant”. (Paris et al 2012) They can also be other colors and shapes, but generally exhibit spines on the vines and often warts or spines on the fruit.

Marketmore 76 is a classic American C. sativus variety.

The Cucumis sativus has its origin in the Indian subcontinent and was not introduced into much of Europe until the mid-9th century. Much of its introduction was likely from Persia by land and through Islamic conquests by sea. Unlike the Cucumis melo which had previously been the cucumber variety being grown in much of Africa, the Middle East and Europe – the introduction of the Indian cucumber enabled growers to cultivate cucumbers in cooler regions, while the fruit itself can often be stored for longer and travel farther than Cucumis melo fruits. Some of the mature heirloom Indian C. sativus varieties can even be stored for several months after being harvested.

Mature Indian Sikkim Cucumbers can be stored for months after being harvested.

While there have been a number of developments to cucumbers over time, such as the thin-skinned Beit Alpha or Lebanese-types, English types and parthenocarpic cucumber varieties, in general cucumbers exhibit some drawbacks in relation to the Cucumis melo varieties that they replaced. The fruit of Cucumis sativus varieties often increase in bitterness when the plant is stressed, are less drought tolerant, have a sappy tacky aftertaste and can be difficult to digest. Even with these limitations, because of its ability to quickly grown in a range of climates as well as being suitable for storing and shipping, the standard sativus cucumber will likely remain the cucumber of choice for the foreseeable future.

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