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Cucumis sativus

Cucumis sativus

Eurosiden I
Order : Pumpkin-like (Cucurbitales)
Family : Pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae)
Genre : Cucumber ( cucumis )
Type : cucumber
Scientific name
Cucumis sativus

The cucumber ( Cucumis sativus ), also called Kukumer and garden cucumber called, is a kind of genre cucumber ( Cucumis ) from the family of cucurbits . It is one of the most economically important vegetables. In connection with the different uses, there are essentially two groups of varieties: the cucumber (or snake cucumber) and the pickled or pickled cucumber . The Association for the Preservation of Crop Diversity has named the cucumber Vegetable of the Year for 2019 and 2020.

Word origin

Cucumis sativus

Cucumber is derived from the old Polish ogurek , today ogórek [ ɔˈgurɛk ], the same meaning. This noun , which was taken over from the Slavic languages in the early Middle Ages, comes from the synonymous Middle Greek αγγούριον, angoúrion "cucumber" (perhaps also its diminutive form αγγουράκι, angouráki ), from the adjective άγουροɔς, águros [ ˈaɣurreifen ] (in greenery ) ab, which has developed from Middle Greek ἄωρος, áōros [ ˈaorɔs ], "untimely, immature". In German, cucumber has been documented since the 16th century, which initially also referred to a melon .

The South German name peep number , in Grimm Kukumer , goes back to Latin cucumis, cucumer , like Italian cocomero , French concombre and English cucumber . Probably coming from a substrate language , its original meaning is unknown. In modern times , cucumber was widespread in East, North and Central Germany to Thuringia, Guckummer, Gummer or Kukumer in West and South Germany. In eastern Bavaria and Austria the regional dialect was Umurken , in Switzerland Guggummere .

On the Iberian Peninsula, the name pepino is based on the diminutive of a name for pumpkin ( Cucurbita pepo " garden pumpkin "). The origin of the word in some Balkan languages ​​(Romanian castravete , Serbo-Croatian krastavac , Albanian kastraveci ) probably goes back to the common Slavic krasta “crust” and thus to the time when the cucumbers were not smooth-skinned.


Unbranched tendril

The cucumber is an annual plant that grows lying down and climbing and can be one to four meters long. Some cultivars grow much more stocky and compact. The whole plant is hairy, bristly and stiff. The leaves are stalked and hairy too. The leaf blade is 7 to 18 centimeters long and evenly wide. The leaf base is heart-shaped, the blade pentagonal with pointed ends, slightly hand-lobed with three to five lobes. The leaf margin is finely serrated. An unbranched tendril arises in each leaf axil .


Sprout with flowers and fruits.

The species is originally single-sexed ( monoecious ), this applies to the wild forms and many cultivars. However, Andromonocial and Gynodiacal varieties were bred. The latter form only purely female plants, which set the fruit without pollination and which therefore deliver a high yield. For the production of seeds and for breeding, the formation of male flowers is stimulated by treatment with silver ions.

The flower stalks are round and covered with hair about two millimeters long. The calyx lobes are narrow-lanceolate, the same length or longer than the cup-shaped calyx-tube. The crown has a diameter of two to three centimeters and is golden yellow. The ovary is densely covered with spiked bristles that sit on nodules.

There are several male flowers in the leaf axils, with only one flower at a time. Typically, two of the five stamens are fused and one is free. This makes the male flowers zygomorphic . The female flowers are solitary, mostly scattered at individual nodes , in the gyno-diocetic varieties at each node. Flowering time in Central Europe is June to August. Pollination is carried out by insects ( bees , digger wasps ).


Fruit of the cucumber or snake cucumber, whole view and cross section
Nutritional value per 100 g cucumber raw:
Calorific value 52 kJ (12 kcal)
water 96.0 g
protein 0.6 g
carbohydrates 1.8 g
- fiber 0.5 g
fat 0.2 g
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamin A 60 µg
Vitamin B 1 18 µg
Vitamin B 2 30 µm
Vitamin B 3 200 µg
Vitamin B 5 240 µg
Vitamin B 6 35 µg
Vitamin B 9 7 µg
vitamin C 8 mg
Calcium 16 mg
iron 0.26 mg
magnesium 8 mg
sodium 3 mg
phosphorus 17 mg
potassium 160 mg
zinc 0.16 mg

The fruit is an armored berry . In the cucumber, the outer green fruit shell is formed by a tough cuticle-covered tissue of the flower base, the so-called receptacle. It becomes 10 to 60 centimeters long. The shape is cylindrical to narrow-egg-shaped, curved to different degrees, pedicel-round to indistinctly three- to six-sided. The surface is bumpy-warty to smooth. The unripe fruits are green at harvest time, with a few varieties also yellow or white. The pulp is usually white, with some varieties also orange. When ripe, the fruits are green to yellow and not net or orange to brown and net, depending on the variety. As a rule, the fruit has three fruit compartments, each of which is in two parts and carries many small, white, flat seeds . Only the 'Lemon' variety has five fruit compartments. It is also distinguished by its yellow color and the fact that it is the only Andromonocean variety of cucumber.


The number of chromosomes is 2n = 14. The cucumber is one of the few species in which the gene for the large RuBisCO (rbcL) subunit was transferred from the genome of the plastid to the mitochondrial genome. The latter is unusually large and contains large amounts of repetitive DNA .

Distribution and origin

The presumed wild form of the cucumber, the hardwickii variety , is native to India . The cultivated forms are cultivated worldwide today and are occasionally also overgrown. The cucumber is the most cold-tolerant cultivated representative of the pumpkin family and can also be grown in Northern Europe.

Overgrown occurrences in Central Europe are limited to fresh, nutrient-rich locations with loose soils in the colline altitude range . In Austria it is rarely found wild in Burgenland as well as in Carinthia, Salzburg and Vorarlberg.

The home of the cucumber is probably in India, where it was found around 1500 BC. Was domesticated. The native variety Cucumis sativus var. Hardwickii can be freely crossed with the cultivated forms. From India it has spread to all the warm areas of the Old World. From Iraq there are descriptions of the cucumber from around 600 BC. Known from the Mediterranean area from 200 BC. Some researchers are of the opinion that the cucumber was not only known in Egypt from the Amarna period, but even as early as the time of the Old Kingdom . However, the unambiguous identification of cucumbers in images or in the case of archaeological seed finds is uncertain; it could also have been a type of melon. This also applies to the plants kishuim and mikshah (Numbers 11,5 LUT.OT : קשאים; Isaiah 1,8 LUT.OT : מקשה), which are called "cucumber" in many Bible translations , which must be the melon . The cucumber was widespread and popular with the Romans. Pliny the Elder calls them the favorite vegetable of the Emperor Tiberius and mentions that the cucumbers intended for him were protected behind glass walls even in bad weather.


The systematic position of the species within the genus Cucumis has long been unclear, since the only species that also have a chromosome set of n = 7 are native to Africa, but the origin of the cucumber has always been assumed to be in India. DNA sequence analysis has shown that the closest relative of the cucumber Cucumis hystrix Chakrav. which has 12 chromosomes. The 7 chromosomes of the cucumber are considerably larger than those of Cucumis hystrix . Six are metacentric, one submetacentric. The closest relatives of these two species are the Cucumis ritchiei (CB Clarke) Ghebret , which until recently was listed in its own genera . & Thulin (Syn. Dicoelospermum ritchiei C.B. Clarke ) and Cucumis maderaspatanus L. (Syn. Mukia maderaspatana (L.) M. Roem. )

Economical meaning


In 2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, around 75 million tons of cucumbers (including pickled gherkins ) were harvested worldwide . The ten largest producers together reaped 88.8% of the world harvest. China alone reaped almost 75% of the world's harvest. The largest European producers were Spain and Poland . The values ​​for Germany, Austria and Switzerland are shown for comparison only.

Largest cucumber producers worldwide (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 56.240.428
2 IranIran Iran 2,283,750
3 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 1,848,273
4th RussiaRussia Russia 1,604,346
5 MexicoMexico Mexico 1,072,048
6th UkraineUkraine Ukraine 985.120
7th UzbekistanUzbekistan Uzbekistan 857.076
8th United StatesUnited States United States 700,819
9 SpainSpain Spain 643,661
10 JapanJapan Japan 550,000
17th GermanyGermany Germany 267,589
56 AustriaAustria Austria 44,856
81 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 14,550
world 75.219.442


In 2016, around 465,775 tons of fresh cucumbers were imported to Germany. Other important importers in the EU were the United Kingdom (155,602 t), the Netherlands (99,171 t) and France (77,792 t).



In northern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, cucumbers are mainly grown in greenhouses , as these usually have additional lighting, shading, ventilation, heating and CO 2 enrichment. Greenhouse cucumbers fetch the best prices for their quality, especially their flawless appearance. They are often particularly long and slender, have a narrowed neck, thin shell and almost no warts and spines. The cucumber is the most common type of cucurbit grown in greenhouses. Leading countries are the Netherlands, Great Britain, China, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Three to five harvests per year can be achieved in the greenhouse. The greenhouse varieties are mostly gyno . These include the European Telegraph , Petita F 1 and Superator and the small-fruited Asian Hayat . While these are new strains, there are also very old strains. This is how the Early Russian was described by Naudin in 1859.

The pickling cucumbers are mostly grown outdoors. In the US, the yield per hectare for cucumbers and pickling cucumbers was 16.2 tonnes per hectare in 2014 .

Types and varieties

A distinction is made between several types of cucumber in the trade in seeds, plants and fruits. The cucumber is the most common and common type, also known as the snake cucumber , which is grown almost exclusively in the greenhouse. Their shape is cylindrical, slightly curved, smooth, thornless and tapers on both sides. Most of the fruits with weights of 300 to 400 grams and 400 to 500 grams are on the market. Larger grades are possible, but not economical. Pickles are sorted into weight ranges of 100 grams. The rarely offered cucumbers from the field are marketed as "land cucumber". "Pickling cucumbers" are mainly grown outdoors, they are pickled in vinegar. Depending on the requirements of the respective canning factory, both smooth-skinned and prickly fruit varieties are sown. Pickling cucumbers are harvested when they are unripe; all fruits on the plant are harvested every 3 to 7 days during the regular harvest and then sorted by size by machine. The smaller sorts are preserved in jars as gherkins and pickles. Medium grades are marketed as cucumber pots or in large cans and the larger grades are processed into "tongue cucumbers", "cucumber sticks", "cucumber snacks" or "schnitzel gherkins". Another type of cucumber grown outdoors is the “peeled cucumber”, which is only harvested when it is ripe and is around 30 cm to 50 cm long. After the skin and core have been removed, it is cut into small cubes and sold as mustard cucumber . A variety with a yellow color is called "lemon cucumber".

There are some special groups of varieties in China. The xishuangbannesis variety is grown by the Hani in southwest China at altitudes over 1000 m. The shoots are up to seven meters long and the fruits can weigh up to three kilograms. The bark is orange, light yellow or white and is not studded with spines. The pulp is yellow, the placenta can turn orange in some representatives. The sikkimensis variety , also known as Sikkim cucumber, is grown in the mountainous regions of Nepal and India.

Diseases and pests

Wrong mildew

The cucumber is affected by various physiological diseases, deficiency symptoms and pests that are relevant for vegetable growing. The physiological phenomena include the shedding of fruit due to physiological stress, necrosis due to sudden strong sunlight, yellowing and wilting due to rapid weather changes. Due to the action of ethylene as a phytohormone or due to ripening, the fruits turn yellow, making them unusable for consumption. After the plants have been pollinated , cobs are formed, and older varieties can also produce bitter fruits.

Deficiency diseases include, above all, the iron deficiency with heavy fruiting and the magnesium and manganese deficiency due to unbalanced nutrient contents in the soil or in the nutrient solution. CO 2 deficiency can occur during cultivation in winter in closed greenhouses if the CO 2 content falls below 200 ppm (parts per million) for a longer period of time.

Viruses, bacteria and fungi play a major role among the pests that can attack cucumbers. For example, cucumbers can be infected by cucumber mosaic viruses and green spotting mosaics, which lead to blotchy fruits and leaves. Bacterial cucumber wilt and bacterial leaf blotch disease are relevant among the bacteriosis , which are each promoted by permanent wetness and infect the cucumber through splashes of rain. Fungal diseases play the largest role in cucumber cultivation, after just a few weeks, free-range cucumbers in particular, as well as cucumbers in the greenhouse, develop downy mildew - recognizable by yellow / brown spots on the leaves. In order to prevent the plants from dying prematurely, a fungicide treatment is essential. Treatment for Alternaria leaf spot disease is just as important . Incorrect crop rotation and cultivation over several years on the same area can lead to increased fusarium infestation. Other known fungal diseases are powdery mildew , rubber stem disease (= leaf and stem rot), gray mold rot , cucumber scabies , sclerotinia stem and fruit rot, stem rot, tip-over disease and Verticillium wilt. Other pests are mainly phytophagous insects and spider mites , which can damage the plants mainly through their feeding and sucking activity. Lice in particular also give off sugary excretions that lead to blackened soot . The relevant insect pests include the cotton louse (= green cucumber aphid ), the green peach aphid , the green-spotted and green-streaked potato aphid and, in general, fringed winged insects (thrips), whiteflies , leaf miners , caterpillars and meadow bugs .


The cucumbers are mainly eaten fresh as a salad . Most of them come from greenhouses . Pickled cucumbers and peeled cucumbers are smaller than the salad cucumbers and mostly come from outdoor cultivation. Their length-to-width ratio is usually around 3: 1. They are boiled down through lactic acid fermentation as pickled cucumbers or with a vinegar stock and called pickled cucumbers or pickled cucumber . Fully grown peeled cucumbers can also be eaten raw, or they are processed into mustard or honey cucumbers or prepared as braised cucumber.

Cucumbers can also be used as soup or in cooking dishes. In East and South Asia, cucumbers are often cooked as a vegetable side dish. B. in India used cucumber in curries and chutneys . In Asia, the seeds are also eaten and an oil is extracted from the seeds, which is also used in the kitchen. In Southeast Asia, the young leaves and sprouts are also cooked and eaten as vegetables.

Common names

The other common German names Agork ( Low German ), Agurke (Low German), Andrenk ( Transylvania near Bistritz ), Angurken, Augurke ( Holstein , East Frisia ), Cucumern ( southern Germany , Wangerooge , Lower Weser ), Gommern ( Swabia ) exist or existed for the cucumber ), Gorch ( Switzerland ), Gorken ( Silesia ), Gümmerle ( Tyrol ), Gümmerlin (Tyrol), Gummer ( Pfalz ), Guggumare ( St. Gallen , Bern ), Gukumer ( Augsburg ), Gurken ( Northern Germany , Bayreuth , Silesia), Jorken (Saxony and parts of Brandenburg), Kimmerling, Korcken, Kratzewetz (Transylvania), Kümmerling ( Nuremberg , Bayreuth), Kukummer ( Hesse , Switzerland, Memmingen , Unterweser), Kumkummer (Holstein), Kummer ( Hamburg ), Ruun (the male flowers concerning Oldenburg), Umurke ( Austria ) and Unmorken.

Cucumber is also the slang term for

  • the (mostly male, large) nose
  • for an incompetent person
  • an old (motor) vehicle in need of repair

See also


Web links

Commons : Cucumber ( Cucumis sativus )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Cucumber  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  3. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language. Berlin 2002, p. 378 sv Gurke ; Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: German Dictionary. Vol. 11, Munich 1999 (= Leipzig 1873), Col. 2585 ​​sv Kukumer .
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  5. ^ Andreas Lötscher: Swiss German. Stuttgart 1983, p. 202.
  6. Reiner Hildebrandt: Atlas Linguarum Europae (ALE). European word history using the example of 'concombre / cucumber / Gurke'. In: Wolfgang Viereck: Negotiations of the International Congress of Dialectologists, Part 2. Historical Dialectology and Language Change. Bamberg 1990. Stuttgart 1993, p. 129.
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  19. Hanno Schaefer: Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae) must include Cucumella, Dicoelospermum, Mukia, Myrmecosicyos, and Oreosyce: a recircumscription based on nuclear and plastid DNA data . Blumea, Vol. 52, 2007, pp. 165-177.
  20. a b Crops (Cucumbers and gherkins). In: FAO production statistics 2018., accessed on March 23, 2020 (English).
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