Is a cucumber a fruit or vegetable?

Posted by Chrissi MacGregor at

Cucumber fruit or vegetable?
The question ‘Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?’ is a common one.  Fruit and vegetables have many healthy qualities in common. They are both healthy due to the vitamins, fibre, minerals and other healthy nutrients. They help you to stay fit and protect your health. By eating many different types of fruit and vegetables, you can ensure that you get all the nutrients you need. Before we answer the question ‘Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?’, we therefore first give our most important conclusion:

Why do we wonder whether cucumber is a fruit or a vegetable?
Why is it that we ask ourselves the question, ‘Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?’, where does this confusion come from? ‘Vegetable’ is the collective name for all other edible parts of a plant. Despite the fact that we only eat the fruit of the cucumber plant, in our daily use we see it as a vegetable. This is what creates the confusion. So is a cucumber a fruit or a vegetable then? The answer to this question can vary, depending on the perspective from which you look at the discussion. See below for the linguistic, cultural, horticultural, botanical and culinary points of view on the question, ‘Is a cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?”

The cultural answer
How have we got used to talking about cucumbers over the years, from a cultural perspective? Do we talk about cucumber as a fruit or a vegetable? And how do we handle cucumbers? We mainly talk about cucumbers as a vegetable. And at the supermarket we usually find cucumbers in the vegetable department, amongst other vegetables. So from a cultural point of view, we see the cucumber as a vegetable.

Horticulture: cucumber is a vegetable
How does the horticultural industry consider the question, ‘Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?’ The division of vegetable and fruit cultivation in the horticultural industry is as follows:
– Everything that grows on a herbaceous plant is a vegetable
– Everything that grows on a woody plant is a fruit.

Cucumbers don’t grow on a woody plant, but on a herbaceous plant. Therefore the cucumber is seen as a vegetable.

Another horticultural argument is that in vegetable cultivation, the plant is finished after harvesting. A cucumber grows on an annual plant, and is therefore seen as a vegetable.

Botany: Is cucumber vegetable or fruit?
Neither ‘vegetable’ nor ‘fruit’ is a botanical term. Vegetables are all the edible parts of the plant. In botany, fruits, flowers, leaves and stems can all be seen as vegetables. According to botanists (those who study plants) a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from a flower. It’s also the section of the plant that contains the seeds. Therefore a cucumber is a fruit.

In culinary terms, a cucumber is a vegetable
In the kitchen there is a distinction made between fruits and vegetables based on when you eat them:
– Everything that is eaten as an entrée or main course is a vegetable
– Everything that is eaten as dessert is a fruit

So is a cucumber then a vegetable or a fruit? I'm  going with the culinary and horticulturist view, but ,it's up to you. If you have a  clearer distinction please share with the rest of us

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