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Cucumis anguria (Gherkin, West Indian gherkin)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Cucurbitales > Family: Cucurbitaceae > Genus: Cucumis

Cucumis anguria (Gherkin, West Indian gherkin)
Cucumis anguria (Gherkin, West Indian gherkin) Cucumis anguria (Gherkin, West Indian gherkin)

Cucumis anguria, Catapu, Sofala, Mozambique. [photos Bart Wursten , Flora of Mozambique]

Cucumis anguria (Gherkin, West Indian gherkin)

Tree squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi) eating the seeds of a Wild Cucumber (Cucumis anguria) Kruger National Park, Limpopo, South Africa. [photo Colin Paterson-Jones ]

The Gherkin originates from southwestern Africa and the wild form (bitter with spikey fruit, leaves and stems) is widely distributed in the northern parts of southern Africa. The Gherkin is thought to have been brought to the West Indies in the slave trade days (probably from Angola), where it became popular as a vegetable. The most common use of gherkins is to pickle them when young but they also boiled fresh and eaten as a vegetable. Most so-called pickled gherkins sold in shops in southern Africa are in fact baby cucumbers. Nutritionally gherkins have some minerals and vitamins but nothing in large amounts.

The Gherkin originates from southwestern Africa. Domestication of this species included selecting for sweeter fruits with shorter spines. The wild form is known as Cucumis anguria var. longaculeatus and in southern Africa occurs in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal) (Welman 2003). It is the only wild Cucumis species with prickly stems and leaf stalks. The Gherkin is thought to have been brought to the West Indies in the slave trade days (probably from Angola), where it became popular as a vegetable.

The most common use of gherkins is to pickle them when young but they also boiled fresh and eaten as a vegetable. Most so-called pickled gherkins sold in shops in southern Africa are in fact baby cucumbers.Nutritionally gherkins have some minerals and vitamins but nothing in large amounts.

Links

Publications

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.

  • Welman, W.G. 2003. Cucurbitaceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 413-417. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

 


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