Enticing from the skin and crunchy and refreshing when eaten, cucumbers are among the must-have fruits in your garden. But did you know that there are plants that look like cucumbers?
Not only are cucumbers easy to grow, but they also produce fruits in abundance when mature.
Knowing the difference between these fruits and their look-alikes will help you make the right choice. In other words, you won’t pick a plant that looks similar to cucumbers when you go to the fruit store.
In this article, we will discuss 5 plants that bear a striking resemblance to cucumbers. Continue reading to find out!
Plants That Look Like Cucumbers
Also read these other popular posts in a similar category:
- Weeds That Look Like Elderberry
- Plants That Look Like Tomato Plants
- Weeds That Look Like Succulents
- Plants That Look Like Raspberries
1. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
Many people will likely confuse ordinary zucchini fruits with cucumbers because both plants look identical. Also known as courgette, zucchini is easy to come by in home gardens and fruit stores. Zucchini is among the summer squash varieties and is also an herbaceous plant.
Mature plants can grow to about 3 feet but are usually ready for harvest at 6 to 10 inches. In many parts of the world, zucchini is used in the preparation of several dishes. Its flowers and fruits are edible, but they are usually eaten when cooked.
Although this cucumber look-alike can be eaten raw, it can have a bitter taste due to the presence of cucurbitacins. When at low levels, cooking zucchini can destroy these toxins, making it safe to eat.
2. Luffa (Luffa)
Another plant that shares a similar characteristic with cucumber is luffa. Other names for this plant include rag gourd, sponge gourd, and vegetable sponge.
When young, the luffa fruits have a green color and are edible at that point.
Luffa is mostly grown for its edible, spongy fruits. However, the fully mature fruit is used in the production of scrubbing sponges.
In different cultures, luffa is a popular fruit that’s usually added to several delicacies. Aside from having edible fruits, luffa’s flowers are also used as main ingredients in meals. In Spain, luffa is known as “estropajo,” while it is called “Chinese okra” in North America.
3. Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a popular edible plant that looks like a cucumber in shape and size. However, the only noticeable difference that sets the two plants apart is the eggplant’s purple color. It’s a beautiful perennial with white to purple flowers. When mature, the eggplant can grow up to 40–150 cm.
Depending on the plant’s cultivars, the color and shape of the fruits can differ. While some cultivars have glossy, egg-shaped, purple fruits, others are white and long.
In many cultures, eggplant fruit is used for preparing different meals. Due to the texture and small size of the eggplant seeds, it is safe to eat them. When eaten raw, the fruit tastes bitter. Hence, the fruit is usually cooked to make it softer and more flavorful.
4. Tindora (Coccinia grandis)
Aside from having a similar shape to a mini cucumber, tindora also shares the same taste with it. Other names for tindora include kowai fruit, scarlet gourd, and ivy gourd. It is a tropical vine that is mostly found in India.
Mature tindora fruits have a sweet taste, while young fruits can be slightly bitter. Often, this plant is grown for its savory fruits and shoots. Its fruits can be eaten raw or cooked. In India, especially, tindora fruits are used as the main ingredients in several dishes.
In some cultures, the plant’s leaves, stems, and shoots are also used in the preparation of soups.
5. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia)
Although bitter, as its name suggests, bitter melon looks like a cucumber with bumps. Other names of bitter melons include bitter gourd, goya, bitter squash, and bitter apple.
Depending on their variety, bitter melon fruits come in different shapes and sizes. When the fruits turn green or are gradually changing to yellow, they’re safe to eat. Even though these fruits have a high water content, like cucumbers, they have a pungent taste.
Sometimes, the fruits are first soaked in water to reduce the bitter taste. In certain cultures, bitter melon is a major ingredient in soups, stir-fries, beers, and herbal teas.
In the past years, some parts of bitter melon have also been used for the treatment of diabetes, stomach problems, coughs, and skin diseases.
Cucumbers contain lots of water and, hence, help to prevent dehydration. It can also help to maintain a healthy weight, prevent constipation, and improve the immune system and skin health. Interestingly enough, the plants that look like cucumbers are also nutritious.
Consider growing one or more of these plants in your garden to enjoy their benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Eat Mini Cucumbers?
Yes, mini cucumbers are safe to eat, just like the long ones. As the name suggests, the mini cucumbers’ fruits are small when harvested. These fruits usually have soft skin and can be eaten raw.
Usually, most cucumber varieties are harvested when they’re about 20–25 cm long. But mini cucumbers are about 5 cm to 7 cm long when harvested. Some species of cucumbers also produce small fruits.
While the mini cucumbers can be eaten raw, they can also be added to salads.
Can You Eat Zucchini Raw Like a Cucumber?
Yes, you can eat raw zucchini the same way you eat cucumber. When it comes to benefiting from its nutrients, raw zucchini is preferable. However, you may eat the ones that have a bitter taste. If this happens, there’s a chance that the cucurbitacin content of the zucchini is high.
Cucurbitacins are some of the compounds found in the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes zucchini. Eating zucchini that contain excess cucurbitacin can cause nausea, diarrhea, and death.
Therefore, if you notice the zucchini you’re eating has a bitter taste, throw it away. Also, you should wash raw zucchini before eating it to reduce the risk of getting sick.
How Do I Identify a Cucumber Plant?
Identifying a cucumber is easy. Its leaves are large, green, and have a triangular shape. Cucumber fruits are long and have a cylindrical shape. They can also have smooth or rough skin and a yellow-green or dark-green color. In terms of size, this is dependent on the cucumber variety.
In addition, cucumbers have male and female flowers. Male flowers do not produce fruits, and they’re always the first to appear. A few days after the male flowers appear, the female flowers appear. Generally, cucumber flowers have a yellow color, whether male or female.
Hey, I’m Lisa and I’ve been an avid gardener for over 30 years. I love writing, talking and living in the garden! Feel free to connect with me on my socials below