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
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Easily grown in loose, fertile, medium-textured, organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants perform best in full sun. Plants are typically grown as annuals in cages, on trellises or, space permitting, along the ground. Vertical growth on a trellis may be best for var. flexuosus because the fruits will grow straighter with less curvature. 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). Consistent and even moisture is essential.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cucumis melo, commonly called muskmelon or sweet melon, is a scabrid or hispid, scrambling or climbing, annual or perennial plant of the gourd family. Common name is in reference to the musky smell which emanates from many of the fruits in the species when cut open. The fruits in this species vary considerably in terms of shape, size, rind, texture, flavor and flesh color. This is a polymorphic taxon that produces not only edible muskmelons (straight species) but also six different edible varieties or groups (some experts prefer the term group because variety only applies to plants in the wild) as follows: (1) var. cantalupensis (cantaloupe developed at Cantalupi near Rome), (2) var. inodorous (winter melons including casaba and honeydew), (3) var. reticulatus (netted or musk melon with netted rind and musky sweet orange flesh), (4) var. conomon (oriental pickling melon), (5) var. chito group (mango melons), (6) var. dudaim (stink melon or 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), most commonly called Armenian cucumber, 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.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word melopepo meaning apple-shaped melon.

Problems

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.

Garden Uses

Not commonly grown in the U.S. Fruits may harvested for use in a variety of ways including raw in salads, pasta salads, pickled, sliced, stir fried and in soups.