Origin, Fascination, and Fasciation in Lemon Cucumber

Posted on Thursday, 6 August 2020 under The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security

Lemon cucumber (Cucumus sativas var. sativus) is one of the many interesting crops being grown at our Research and Education Seed Farm this year.  The fruit of this cucurbit resembles a lemon, has a sweeter flavour than the regular cucumber and has some people experiencing citrusy notes on the palate.

This variety was thought to originate from India or the Middle East and was brought to North America in the late 19th century.  During its early days, an American huckster took advantage of the cucumber’s uniqueness and sold the seeds at the high price of $1 / seed! He was able to fool people into believing that he had created the variety by pollinating a cucumber with an orange blossom he took from his daughter’s wedding bouquet. His tall tale of an inter-ordinal orange (order: Sapindales) and cucumber (order: Violales) cross was quickly thereafter refuted, as people grew savvy to its availability from seed companies at 10c/ packet – and hopefully realizing that a cross between 2 orders is incredibly rare and close to impossible. These days we do have access to the seed at a reasonable price from some companies and becomes free, in abundance and locally adapted when we save cucumber seed in our own agroecosystems.

At the Seed Farm we have noticed fasciation in some individuals in our population.

Fasciation is an interesting trait that causes flattened stems as well as an increase in the number of leaves, tendrils, flowers and fruits per node (see picture below). We are considering selecting for fasciation out of pure curiosity. However, it is a good thing that a challenge is one of the joys of plant breeding as fasciation is predicted to be recessive and it is also unclear as to whether it is genetic or not.

We will share any interesting findings with you and if you have information to share with us about fasciation we would love to hear from you at bcseeds@farmfolkcityfolk.ca.