Cucumis melo var. flexuosus

Armenian cucumber
Common Name: melon 
Type: Annual
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Native Range: India, Pakistan
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Easily grown in loose, fertile, medium-textured, organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun. Consistent and even moisture is essential. Plants are typically grown as annuals in cages, on trellises or, space permitting, along the ground. Plants are intolerant of frost. Plant seeds outdoors in the garden at the last spring frost date or indoors in pots or other containers about 4-6 weeks prior to the last spring frost date. Plants thrive in hot summer daytime weather with warm nights. Pick fruits when young (older fruits toughen as they mature).

Vertical growth on a trellis may be best for var. flexuosus because the fruits will grow straighter with less curvature.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cucumis melo, commonly called musk melon, sweet melon, or cantaloupe is a scrambling or climbing, annual vine native to the paleotropics (Old World tropics). The stems and leaves typically have stiff hairs and a rough texture. The funnel-shaped flowers are yellow and relatively small, reaching 0.5-1.5" long. Unbranched tendrils help the vines to climb. The fruit (a pepo) vary considerably in terms of shape, size, rind, texture, flavor and flesh color. This is a polymorphic taxon with a history of nomenclature changes but there are six broadly accepted groups of cultivated, edible varieties as follows: (1) var. cantalupensis (sweet flesh with ribbed, smooth or scaly rind), (2) var. inodorous (winter melons including casaba and honeydew), (3) var. reticulatus (netted rind and musky sweet orange flesh, may be included in var. cantalupensis), (4) var. conomon (oriental pickling melon), (5) var. chito (feral melon of North American origin with small fruit, commonly known as mango melon or vine peach), (6) var. dudaim (Queen Anne’s pocket melon), and (7) var. flexuosus (Armenian cucumber, snake or serpent melon with cucumber shape and appearance).

Var. flexuosus (aka flexuosus group), commonly called Armenian cucumber or snake melon, is a frost-tender, tendril bearing annual vine that is grown for harvest of its edible, long and slender, cucumber-like fruits consumed as a vegetable. Vines will typically grow to 6-9’ long. This is an heirloom plant first cultivated in the 1400s in western Asia from Armenia and Turkey south along the eastern Mediterranean to Egypt. Although botanically a muskmelon, this fruit looks and tastes like a cucumber. The cucumber that is most commonly grown for culinary consumption is the closely related Cucumis sativus.

In frost-free climates, yellow flowers with 5-parted corollas bloom throughout much of the year. Flowers give way to slender fruits with greenish-white flesh and thin corrugated pale green rinds. Fruits are best harvested when young (e.g. about 12” long and 1” diameter), but will mature to as much as 36” long (hence the sometimes used common name of yard-long cucumber). Fruits can be eaten without peeling. Fruit flesh becomes drier and tougher as fruits mature. Stems are clad with rounded, wavy margined, rough-pubescent, shallowly and irregularly lobed leaves (to 6” across).

Genus name from Latin means "cucumber" as derived from the Greek word kykyon also meaning "cucumber".

The specific epithet melo comes from the Ancient Greek melon meaning "apple" or used more generically to describe fruit.

The common name Armenian cucumber alludes to Armenian immigrants and refugees who brought seeds of this plant with them to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century as they escaped conflict in their home country. This plant shares some similarities in taste with the common cucumber Cucumis sativus. The common name snake melon refers to the long, thin shape of the fruit.


Watch for cucumber beetles which feed on the foliage and transmit diseases. Aphids and spider mites may be troublesome. Wilt, downy mildew, powdery mildew, anthracnose, stem blight, scab and leaf spot may occur. Mosaic virus is a potential problem in some areas.


Fruits may be harvested for use in a variety of ways including raw in salads, pasta salads, pickled, sliced, stir fried and in soups.