Cucumis sativus is the scientific name for a cucumber plant, the popular plant in the gourd family. The plant is a creeping vine that grows on trellises or similar structures, wrapping around the structure with its tendrils. Cucumis sativus plants can grow to up to 6 feet. They thrive in sandy, loamy, and clay soils that are well-drained. This annual creeping vine flowers from July to September and ripens its seeds from August to October. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, cucumis sativus grows in 19 states, including Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, among others. Cucumis sativus flourishes in temperate and tropical climates, and it first originated in Asia before becoming a popular plant across the United States.
The most well-known aspect of this plant is the cucumber that it produces. While the long, dark green variety of cucumber is most common, the cucumis sativus plant can, in fact, produce cucumbers in a variety of shapes and sizes, from white to yellow and orange. Most cucumbers retain the common shape, though some varieties are oval or round. Thus, there are hundreds of varieties of cucumis sativus, all of which produce cucumbers.
These hundreds of varieties of cucumbers are further divided into two categories. Slicing cucumbers are those varities that are consumed in fresh form. These large, thick-skinned cucumbers are easy to slice and transport from farm to the dinner table without damage. Other cucumbers are of the pickling variety; these cucumbers are processed into pickles, thanks to their thinner skins, which make them easier to preserve.
Cucumbers from the cucumis sativus plant are primarily used as a food product. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration reports that cucumber is one of the 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables. In addition to being eaten on their own, cucumbers can be chopped and mixed into salads, served on sandwiches, tossed and cooked in olive oil with other vegetables, and even transformed into a dip or a sauce. Cucumber is a versatile food, thus explaining its popularity. It offers many nutritional benefits; the skin and seeds of the cucumber, in particular, are rich in important nutrients. Cucumbers include flavonoids, such as apigenin, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese.
Cucumbers do not have to be eaten to enjoy their many health benefits, however. Cucumber in topical form can offer similar health benefits, making it a popular and appealing ingredient in many beauty and personal care products. The whole cucumber, as well as its fruit and seed extract, are used in a range of beauty products, offering several benefits. Placing cucumber slices on the eyes during spa sessions has been a popular method of reducing puffiness for years, showing the beauty benefits of cucumber in its natural form. This tested trick can also eliminate those hard-to-combat dark circles under the eyes.
Generally, cucumber as a beauty ingredient serves one of two functions. As a skin conditioning agent and emollient, cucumber and its extract versions lubricate the skin, giving it a soft and smooth appearance. Thanks to its function as an emollient, cucumber and its extracts can be found in products such as facial cleansers, masks, and moisturizers.
Cucumber has other skin conditioning benefits. It can repair dry and damaged skin, helping to reduce unsightly flaking. Moreover, it can restore skin’s suppleness, giving it the moisture it needs to look its best. Skin that has been out in the sun for too long can be soothed by cucumbers, which have a cooling effect that can help treat sunburn. Together with other natural ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar and honey, cucumber can serve as a toner, tightening open pores and creating healthier, more radiant skin.
As a botanical, cucumber is a gentle and safe ingredient. Botanicals are popular ingredients in the beauty industry thanks to their antioxidant benefits; they include important nutrients that condition skin and improve its overall health without any negative side effects, such as irritation, which is a common problem created by artificial and synthetic beauty products. Whether used alone in its natural state or in combination with other ingredients, cucumber can improve the overall condition of skin, making it suppler, better moisturized, and well-toned.