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Is Cucumber A Melon?

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Cucumbers and melons have always been known to be different types of fruit and if asked to tell them apart, you’d be easily able to do so.

There are, however, numerous studies and investigations that discuss their similarities and differences, which brings us to our question:

Is cucumber a melon? No, cucumbers and melons are different fruit. However, they share quite a few similarities since they both belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. These similarities include both fruits growing on trailing vines and having similar seed arrangments.

Read on to find out how cucumbers and melons are related and their differences and similarities based on their taste, texture, and appearance!

The Cucurbitaceae Family

Cucurbitaceae, also known as Cucurbits or the gourd family, has 98 genera and approximately 975 species. It is a family of flowering plants of fruit such as melons, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.

Native to tropical areas such as Africa and some countries in Asia, these fruits grow in temperate regions with mild summers, cool winters, and moderate rainfall.

They have similar flowers and leaves and grow on vines on the ground. 

Cucumis is the most common genus of the Cucurbitaceae family, to which both cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and melons (Cucumis melo)belong. It is characterized by its general vine features such as twining and tendril-bearing.

What Are Cucumbers?

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are widely cultivated plants known for their crisp and green appearance. Commonly associated with vegetables, since they are mostly used in salads, cucumbers are actually fruits.

A fruit is a plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds of the plant, and since cucumbers fit this parameter, they are considered fruits. They belong to the same family as squashes and the same genus as melons. 

The cucumber plants grow as vines along the ground and can reach a length of around 3 meters. The typical fruit is elongated and roughly cylindrical and can be as large as 60 cm long and 10 cm wide.

While they are usually green-skinned, you can also come across varieties that are yellow and white-skinned. 

They have a mild, light, and sweet flavor due to their high water content. Crisp, cool, and refreshing to eat, they may have a slightly bitter taste depending on the variety you are eating.

American slicing cucumbers, the most common cucumber variety found in most grocery stores, are often bitter and have a waxy coating.

Persian cucumbers, which are on the opposite end of the spectrum, are rarely bitter, more expensive than the former variety, and often sold in packs.

A wonderful source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, and potassium, cucumbers are low in sugar and calories and can be eaten both raw and cooked.

They are also well-known for their weight loss properties and contain antioxidants that protect against chronic ailments such as cancer and heart disease.

What Are Melons?

Melons (Cucumis melo) are consistent with the characteristics of the Cucurbitaceae family and are a frost-tender plant that is sensitive to very cold temperatures.

Melons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and tastes. Their differences, however, are much more apparent than the different types of cucumbers.

They can be perfectly round, oval, or oblong, and have rough jagged skin or smooth skin. The juicy flesh inside can either be orange, yellow, pink, red, or green.

One of summer’s coolest, juiciest, and healthiest fruit, melons are available 12 months a year but are most flavorful in the summer.

They are loaded with potassium and vitamin C and are fat and cholesterol-free. In addition to that, their high water content helps prevent dehydration and is also extremely beneficial for skin health.

Melons are a generally sweet fruit that shares similar properties to cucumbers. Some of the most common varieties of melons include watermelons, cantaloupes, and winter melons.

Watermelons

One of the most popular and distinct melons in the world, watermelons are characterized by their green exterior, which is either stripped or alternating in light and dark green, and their red interior.

Since they have a high water content, around 90%, they are great for dehydration and are also associated with skincare.

Due to their hydrating properties, many skincare companies have developed products centered around watermelons, which are also known to help calm skin inflammation and rejuvenate the skin.

Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes are another popular melon that has two main types: European cantaloupes and North American cantaloupes.

European cantaloupes are characterized by their gray-green exterior and white stripes and are believed to have originated from Italy, whereas North American cantaloupes have a green and white net-like exterior.

Both European and North American cantaloupes have a sweet interior that is orange in color.

Commonly eaten as desserts and used as a flavor for ice cream and smoothies, cantaloupes are also good for hydration.

However, unlike cucumbers and watermelons, cantaloupes are not a common ingredient in skincare products.

Winter Melons

Known for their long shelf life, winter melons are usually produced during the warmer months and are good until it gets colder, hence the name winter melon.

With an exterior similar to watermelons, winter melons have a pale or white interior. However, unlike watermelons and cantaloupes, they taste rather bland.

Due to their plain flavor, they are more commonly cooked instead of eaten raw and are included in several soups and stir-fry recipes.

Winter melons are also used to prepare winter melon tea or winter melon milk tea, where they are either sliced or juiced and mixed with sugar or honey.

Milk can also be added to the drink. Although the name has the word tea in it, it is not actually tea.

Cucumbers And Melons: Similarities

Since cucumbers and melons are from the same genus, they share quite a bit in common, especially melons that are commercially produced and available in major stores.

Both cucumbers and melons are grown on trailing vines with tendrils, allowing the plant to climb up trees and walls to access additional light.

Another similar feature of the two fruit is that the seeds look very much alike and are smooth, flat, and all white. In fact, it is very easy to mistake cucumber seeds for honeydew or cantaloupe seeds.

Watermelon seeds, however, have a different appearance since they come from a different genus. They are rounder, fatter, and brown in color.

The arrangement of the seeds inside the fruits is also similar, with both their seeds residing in a soft, gelatinous pith in the center.

This again is different in watermelons that have the seeds distributed throughout the fleshy part of the fruit as single seeds rather than clusters.

The water content of cucumbers and melons is also something that they both have in common. Most fruits that belong to this genus have around 90% water content.

Cucumbers And Melons: Differences

The biggest difference between cucumbers and melons is their sugar content, with melons having 2 to 3 times more sugar than cucumbers. This has a significant effect on the melon’s flavor and makes them taste much sweeter.

It also has an effect on the recommended amount of melon that you can consume, particularly for diabetic individuals, since they are a high GI (glycemic index) food.

The second most significant difference is that the skin on most cucumbers is edible, except for a few varieties where the skin is not as appetizing.

The skin on most melons, though, is thicker and not edible. Their thick skin gives them a significantly longer shelf life than cucumbers which usually last only a few weeks in the refrigerator.

In addition to that, cucumbers generally have an elongated shape compared to the rounded shape of melons. There are, however, certain varieties of cucumbers that are round, such as the apple crystal cucumber. 

How To Grow Cucumbers And Melons

Cucumbers and melons are both members of the Cucurbitaceae family and are easy-to-grow plants that require a minimal amount of care.

Their seeds look very similar and it can often be challenging to tell young seedlings apart.

They are mostly grown in the same way, the main difference being the length of time needed to harvest. Cucumbers take around 50 days to harvest whereas melons take longer up to 80 days.

Both need a sunny and fertile area with well-drained soil that has a neutral or slightly alkaline pH level. Like most members of the Cucurbitaceae family, cucumbers and melons do not generally tolerate soil temperatures below 50°F.

It is best to plant cucumber and melon plants indoors during early spring and transfer them to the ground once the soil has reached at least 60°F.

Both need plenty of water to produce delicious, succulent fruit, which is why you must water the plants deeply once a week and use potassium and phosphorus as fertilizer for best results.

Both cucumbers and melons are monoecious plants, which means that both the male and female flowers are found on the same plant.

The female is on the end of a long stem near the plant’s base whereas the male is clustered together at the top of the plant.

Pests And Disease

The two fruits also share several common pests and diseases such as cucumber beetles, flea beetles, aphids, and vertical wilt, that can wreak havoc on cucumber as well as melon plants.

In addition to eating the leaves and stems, these pests transmit diseases such as fungal leaf spots, which can cause the plant to wilt and die within a few days of infestation.

Another fungus, known as powdery mildew, causes white powdery spots on the leaves and stems of the plant and turns the edges of the leaves yellow or brown. The fungus spreads via airborne spores and can infect other plants nearby.

Flea beetles are small black insects that feed primarily on the leaves of the plant and can also damage the fruit. Their large hind legs allow them to jump several feet away from the infected plant to other plants nearby when disturbed.

Can Cucumbers And Melons Cross-Pollinate?

Many people believe that cucumbers and melons can cross-pollinate and create unusual results in the form of a hybrid fruit.

While this is not true and cannot occur, there are a few factors you need to take into consideration when planting them together in a space.

As discussed above, cucumbers and melons have many characteristics in common but they are different fruits belonging to different species and are incapable of cross-pollination.

Some cucurbits can pollinate with each other, but only with plants of the same species. For instance, since zucchini and pumpkin belong to the Cucurbita pepo species, they can cross-pollinate. 

Make sure to leave adequate spacing between the plants. While it is not necessary to prevent cross-pollination between cucumbers and melons, it is essential for them to grow well and prevent issues such as overcrowding and disease.

Companion plants are another consideration to keep in mind since areas where multiple cucurbits are planted may benefit from them.

For instance, growing 2 to 3 radish plants on each mound repels cucumber beetles and Nasturtiums may repel flea beetles and aphids.

What Is A Cucamelon?

At first glance, you may think that cucamelons are miniature watermelons, and the name suggests that they are a cross between a cucumber and a melon. They are neither.

Cucumbers and melons cannot cross-pollinate and, while cucamelons are part of the cucumber family, they belong to a different species altogether.

They are commonly grown in Mexico and Central America and are also known as pepquinos (little cucumbers) or sandiita (little watermelons). They also go by the names mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, and Mexican sour cucumber.

They have cucumber-like flesh with tiny seeds on the inside and taste like a fresh, crisp cucumber with a hint of lime, giving them a mild citrus acidity.

How To Pick The Best Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a refreshing fruit with a light flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes such as cucumber salads, pickles, kimchi, salsa, sandwiches, yogurt sauce, dips, and so much more.

When choosing the best cucumbers, you need to look for ones that are firm to the touch and have no blemishes or dark spots, since both are indicators that they have started to rot.

Fresh cucumbers are dark green and have no wrinkles on them.

Since cucumbers come in several varieties, you need to pick one that fits your purpose and requirements. They are usually grouped into slicing and pickling varieties which are longer and shorter respectively.

How To Pick The Best Melons

Choosing the right melon can be tricky and there are a few signs you need to look for. Their scent is often the best indicator and you must smell them before buying. 

The best melons have a sweet aroma and should feel heavier for their size. They are firm with a slight give, are free of bruises, cracks, and mold, and the belly button should have no trace of the stem.

Related Questions

Now that you know whether a cucumber is a melon, along with their similarities and differences, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have:

What’s the best way to store cucumbers?

If you are not going to use them immediately, it is best to keep cucumbers in the refrigerator. Avoid freezing them as they will turn brown and gelatinous.

When storing cut cucumbers, tightly wrap them in some plastic wrap and keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

How do you store melons?

You can store melons for up to a week and cut melons for 3 days in the refrigerator. Do not keep them for more than a week unless you intend to freeze them.

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