B's Cucumber Pages

The Cucumber Basics

Along with squash, melons, and pumpkins, cucumbers are part of the Cucurbitaceae family and collectively with these crops belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits or vine crops. The family (also known as the gourd family) consists of about 96 genera, but only three are of commercial importance in the U.S. These include Cucumis (cucumber and muskmelon), Citrullis (watermelon), and Cucurbita (pumpkin and squash).

Cucurbits are generally annuals that are extremely intolerant of cold weather. They are grown mainly for their fruits, which are derived from a single ovary containing many ovules or seeds. In some parts of the world, flowers and leaves of some species are also used for food. Among vegetable crops, the cucurbits are somewhat different, along with sweet corn, in that they bear different kinds of flowers on the same plant. Insects serve as the main pollen carriers.

The cucumber is classified Cucumis sativus. The genus comprises about forty species, including muskmelons, honeydews, and cantaloupes.

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Last Modified: May 22, 1996