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Genus Cucumis Family Cucurbitaceae

Description: Climbing or trailing annual or perennial herbs, usually bristly; monoecious or dioecious. Tendrils simple.

Leaves simple, lamina toothed or deeply palmately lobed.

Flowers mostly unisexual. Male flowers solitary or in few-flowered clusters; female flowers mostly solitary, sometimes co-axillary with males. Hypanthium bell-shaped. Corolla deeply 5-lobed, yellow. Stamens 3, two 2-locular, one 1-locular, loculi flexuous. Female flowers usually with 3 staminodes. Ovary globose, pubescent; ovules many, horizontal.

Fruit ellipsoid, fleshy, indehiscent, smooth and pubescent, often glabrescent with age or covered with spines or bristles; seeds many, elliptic, compressed.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 28 species, mostly tropical & southern Africa, also tropical Asia to Australia. Australia: c. 7 species (1 species possibly native), all States.

A number of species are widely cultivated, especially C. sativus L. (Cucumber) and C. melo L. (rockmelons, cantaloupes and honey dew melons) and to a lesser extent C. metulifera Naudin (Horned Cucumber) and C. anguria L. (West Indian Gherkin).

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Cucumis althaeoides,    Cucumis metuliferus

 Key to the species 
1Leaves more or less unlobed, petiole c. twice as long as the lamina; fruit densely covered with soft bristles c. 6 mm long, bristles more or less completely obscuring the surface of the fruitCucumis dipsaceus
Leaves mostly deeply 3–5-lobed, petiole less than twice as long as the lamina; fruit either covered with scattered bristles or spines, or bristles dense but not obscuring the surface of the fruit, or spines and bristles absent2
2Fruit lacking spines or bristles, glabrous or pubescent; leaves shallowly to deeply lobed, rarely almost unlobedCucumis melo
Fruit covered with rigid spines or bristles; leaves deeply lobed
                       Back to 1
3
3Fruit globose, less than 30 mm diam., stripedCucumis myriocarpus
Fruit ellipsoid, more than 30 mm diam.; mostly not striped
                       Back to 2
4
4Spines rigid, less than 4 mm long; stalk of fruit more than 30 mm long; leaves with central lobe more or less roundedCucumis anguria
Bristles soft, more than 4 mm long; stalk of fruit less than 20 mm long; leaves with central lobe usually acute
                       Back to 3
Cucumis zeyheri

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