Herb: Cucumber

Latin name: Cucumis sativus

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Cucumber:

The leaf juice is emetic, it is used to treat dyspepsia in children. The fruit is depurative, diuretic, emollient, purgative and resolvent. The fresh fruit is used internally in the treatment of blemished skin, heat rash etc, whilst it is used externally as a poultice for burns, sores etc and also as a cosmetic for softening the skin. The seed is cooling, diuretic, tonic and vermifuge. 25 - 50 grams of the thoroughly ground seeds (including the seed coat) is a standard dose as a vermifuge and usually needs to be followed by a purgative to expel the worms from the body. A decoction of the root is diuretic.

Description of the plant:

Annual Climber

2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Cucumber:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The cucumber is a common ingredient of salads, being valued mainly for its crisp texture and juiciness. However, it is very watery, with little flavour and is not very nutritious. Many people find the fruit to be indigestible, this is due to the high cellulose content. The fruit varies widely in size between cultivars but can be up to 1 metre long. It can be available from mid summer until early autumn from outdoor grown plants. Seed - raw. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat. Young leaves and stems - cooked as a potherb. Oil from seed. Said to resemble olive oil, it is used in salad dressings and French cooking. The oil contains 22.3% linoleic acid, 58.5% oleic acid, 6.8% palmitic acid and 3.7% stearic acid.

Other uses of the herb:

Cucumber skins have been shown to repel cockroaches in laboratory experiments. The fruit is applied to the skin as a cleansing cosmetic to soften and whiten it. The juice is used in many beauty products.

Propagation of Cucumber:

Seed - sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks if you are trying them outdoors.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Cucumis sativus:

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.