This Pale Cucumber Is Technically A Melon

When you think of home garden must-haves, a few likely seedlings come to mind: cherry tomatoes, perhaps basil, and definitely cucumbers. The common cucumber is recognizable in the grocery store, at the farmers market, and in your backyard, but there are actually a wide variety of cucumbers to choose from when buying and planting that you may not be familiar with. The Spruce shares eight popular cucumber varieties, including your average garden cucumber, the seedless English cucumber, and the petit and round lemon cucumber. But if your backyard garden gets particularly sun-drenched, you might want to opt for the Armenian cucumber instead.

A variety that stands up well to heat, Savvy Gardening explains the Armenian cucumber is well-equipped to survive an intense summer. With thin skin and a fuzzy exterior that can be easily washed off, the versatile little plant can be grown on the ground or vined on trellises, making it perfect for gardeners of any experience level. But you may be surprised to learn that — despite its name — the Armenian cucumber is not actually a cucumber at all.

The Armenian cucumber is a muskmelon

Per Savvy Gardening, technically the Armenian cucumber is a muskmelon. (Other common muskmelons you'd recognize are the staple cafeteria side dish and fruit salad options cantaloupe and honeydew.) Muskmelons — including our Armenian cucumber — share a few defining features that earn them their title. Lexico explains all muskmelons have raised networks of markings on the skin, and of course, the fruit the plants produce is edible. All muskmelons also share the Armenian cucumber's signature trailing or climbing vines (via Merriam-Webster).

Like their cucumber cousins, the muskmelon clan is part of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd, family. Though muskmelons often have a sweet flavor (like the cantaloupe or honeydew mentioned above) the crunchy, crisp Armenian cucumber has more of a mild taste, making it perfectly ready to step in for a true blue cucumber variety in dishes like spicy smashed cucumber salad or rice pilaf. So if you're craving cucumbers but simply have too much sun, you may want to consider the Armenian cucumber for your next planting season — and if you spot one at the store, don't hesitate to grab it for that cucumber avocado soup you had planned to make. No one will ever know you actually used a melon.