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West Indian Gherkin Cucumis anguria

Phonetic Spelling
KOO-koo-mis an-JUR-ee-uh
Description

The genus, Cucumis, is a family of cucumbers, an annual climbing or spreading vine and common vegetable grown for its crisp, green fruit. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, and can grow 8 to 18 inches high and 3 to 8 feet wide. If given proper soil and water, cucumber plants can be an incredibly prolific addition to your vegetable garden.

C. anguria, commonly called Maroon Cucumber or, also Gherkin,  is an herbaceous vining species of cucumber native to Africa that is not known in the wild and, although accepted as a species, is thought by some to be a cultivar. Maroon Cucumber is a climbing plant with thin stems that can reach a length of more than 7 feet. The plant grows best in full sun and moist, rich, well-drained soil. It prefers a slightly acidic ph, but will grow in less desirable soils. It has high water needs and requires consistent moisture for proper growth, but good drainage is also important. Keep the leaves dry while watering to prevent fungal diseases. Note that vertically grown cucumber plants lose moisture more easily.

Cucumber is frost sensitive and needs warm soil temperatures to germinate and grow. Seeds can be directly sown after the last frost or started indoors three to six weeks before transplanting, or less than four weeks before the last frost date. Be careful to avoid damaging the plant's taproot when transplanting. Cucumbers can be harvested green when they reach their preferred size; however, cucumbers that have turned yellow are over ripe and will be tough and difficult to eat. Poor pollination may lead to misshapen fruit. To pick, cut the stem attaching the fruit to the vine with a sharp, clean knife or clippers. Harvest often to spur further fruit production. 

Cucumber plants can be grown vertically on a trellis or even a wire fence, which increases air circulation, prevents diseases, and grows straighter fruits. It can also be grown in a container of a minimum size of 1 gallon and 8 inches depth. Cucumber is most well known for its use in salads and pickling, so its best landscape use is in an edible garden. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

There are pest and disease problems, such as cucumber beetles and aphids, that can generally be managed through good cultural practices.  

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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Tags:
#heat tolerant#edible plant#tendrils#moist soil#well-drained soil#climbing vines#vegetable garden#container vegetable garden#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#heat tolerant#edible plant#tendrils#moist soil#well-drained soil#climbing vines#vegetable garden#container vegetable garden#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cucumis
    Species:
    anguria
    Family:
    Cucurbitaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Can be used in salads, but is typically soaked in vinegar for pickles.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tanzania, Southern Africa
    Distribution:
    Western United States, Texas, Southeastern United States, Mexico and South America
    Climbing Method:
    Scrambler
    Tendrils
    Edibility:
    Fruits have a very agreeable cucumber flavor without any bitterness. Fresh cucumbers last in the fridge for about a week. Be aware that the sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Vine
    Warm Season Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Tendrils
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The "vegetable" is botanically a fruit– it is a pepo, a berry with a hard rind. Long and cylindrical, starting out prickly when young and smoothing out to a bumpy surface as it matures. Length and girth can vary based on cultivar and culinary purpose but grow at least 3 inches long. Some varieties are bred to be seedless. The surface of the fruit is covered in hairs, spines or warts.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Yellow five-petaled flowers. Male and female flowers grow separately on the same plant. Multiple plants are required for successful pollination with the exception of seedless varieties. Some varieties have only female flowers and need a traditionally-flowering plant for pollination.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Large, hairy, triangular leaves with 3-5 lobes, deep wrinkles, and serrated margins borne on long petioles.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Thin vining stems covered in prickly hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat