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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 15:7-8 (article 3) 1992

Cucumber Germplasm Resources in Southwest China

Si-Lin Yang

Department of Horticulture, Southwest Agricultural University, CongQing, Sichuan, 60316, People's Republic of China

The majority of Chinese cucumber cultivars of the outdoor type have been grown for fresh consumption in China for well over 2000 years. Only in recent history were the greenhouse and pickling types introduced into China. In a brief summary of intraspecific variation in economically important Chinese cucurbits (6), Chinese cucumber cultivars were divided into three types (horticultural groups): North China type (NC), South China type (SC) , and Southwest China type (SW). The NC and SC types have long been recognized by Chinese horticulturists in China (1, 6) and Japan (3, 4). It was not until 1989 that the SW type was recognized.

There are diverse cucumber cultivars native to southwest China. Recent investigations in Sichuan (2), Yunnan (Zhang, Y.H., pers. comm.) and Guizhu (Z.Y. Guo, personal communication) suggested that all southwest local cultivars belong to the SC type. However, my field surveys and culture experiments indicate that some of the local cultivars in the southwest are distinct from the SC type with respect to fruit traits and ecological requirements. Plants of these local cultivars are characterized by their large short fruits, vigor, and long growing period (ca. 200 days). They are grown in mountain regions: Yaan and Shanzia Regions in Sichuan, Anlong and Tongxing in Guizhou, and Dehong, Zhaotong, and Zishuanbanna in Yunnan. The SW type is composed of those cultivars.

Table 1 compares the morphology and ecological requirements of the SW, NC and SC types, and Cucumis sativus var. hardwickii. The SW type is closely allied with the SC type and the C. sativus var. hardwickii, and distinct from the NC type (Table 1). To date, phylogenies of Chinese cucumber cultivars are unknown. I propose that the SC and SW cultivars either were domesticated from the native wild type (C. sativus var. hardwickii) in southwest China, or were brought into China from India at prehistoric times via the ancient southwest Silk Road (Yang unpublished). The NC cultivars were introduced, via the Silk Road from middle Asia during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC; see reference 6 and reference therein).

Compared to North China, little attention has been given to the southwest with respect to breeding and germplasm research of cucumber cultivars (1). From the mid 1980s, NC cultivars and F1 hybrids began replacing the indigenous cultivars in the southwestern provinces. Subsequently, valuable local cultigens in the southwest are disappearing. Southwest China, which is bounded by the Himalayas, has been suggested as the original center of domestication of the cucumber (see reference 5 and references therein). Although it still remains unclear of the exact report, it has been suggested that southwest Yunnan should be included as a center for domestication of cucumber (5). Recently, C. sativus var. hardwickii was observed in southwest China (Chen, J. pers. comm.). Southwest China should be of interest for future research by cucumber breeders and taxonomists.

Trait
NC
SC
SW
hardwickii
Photoperiod
day neutral
short days induce pistillate flowering
short days induce pistillate flowering
short days induce pistillate flowering
Ecological requirements
Temperate, dry tolerance
Temperate, humid
warm, humid
-
Days to 1st harvest
50-60
50-70
120
-
Growth season
all
spring to summer
spring to fall
spring to fall
Plant growth
less vigorous
vigorous
vigorous
-
Trellis support
needed
unneeded
unneeded
unneeded
Stem
small
large
large
-
Leaves
small
large
very large
-
Branch number
2-5
2-10
>10
>10
Node of 1st pistillate flower
5-7
5-10
30
>30
Flower location
main vine
main vine
main and branch
main and branch
Fruit length
40-6- cm
15-30 cm
10-40 cm
-
Fruit diameter
4-7 cm
6-10 cm
10-20 cm
-
L:D ratio
8-15
3-8
1-4
1-4
Fruit wt.
150-400 g
150-500 g
15000-3000 g
30g?
Fruit ridges?
yes
not obvious
no
-
Fruit skin
thin
thick
thick
thick
Fruit warts
many
some
rare
no
Fruit spines
many, white
some, black
rare, black
no
Immature fruit color
dark green
light green
light green/white
light green
Mature fruit color
yellow
yellow, brown
brown or white
-
Fruit color uniformity
Uniform
mottled
mottled
mottled
Mature fruit netting
Rare
Numerous
Numerous
-
Seed length
0.8-1.0 cm
0.9-1.0 cm
1.2-1.4 cm
-
Seed width
0.3-0.4 cm
0.3-0.4 cm
0.3-0.4 cm
-
100-seed wt.
2-2.5 g
2-2.4 g
4.0 g
-
Typical cultivars
BeJing, Cigua, Changchun Mei, Lingyan Daci
Wuhan Qingyudan, Di Huanggua, Hanzhou Qinpi
Zhaotong Da Huang Gua, Yaan Man Huanggua, Anlong Da Huanggua, Xishuangbanna Gourd
-

Literature Cited

  1. Cui, H.W. and X.P. Zhang. 1991. Cucumber cultivar improvement in the People's Republic of China. Cucurbit Genetics Coop. Rpt. 14: 5-7.
  2. Dong, W. and L. Chen. 1991. A study of the local cucumber cultivars in Sichuan. Zuowu Pingzong Ziyuan 1991 (1): 24-25 (in Chinese).
  3. Kalloo, R. 1988. Vegetable breeding, vol. 3. CRC Press, Inc. Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
  4. Yamaguchi, M. 1983. World vegetables, principles, production and nutritive values. AVI Publishing Company, Inc. Westport, Connecticut, USA.
  5. Yang, S.L., H. Pu, P.Y. Liu and T.W. Walters. 1991.Preliminary studies on Cucumis sativus var. xishuanbannanesis. Cucurbit Genetics Coop. Rpt. 14:29-31.
  6. Yang, S.L. and T.W. Walters. 1992. Ethnobotany and the economic role of the Cucurbitaceae of China. Economic Botany (Iin review).
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Page citation: Wehner, T.C., Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative;
Created by T.C. Wehner and T. Ng, 1 June 2005; design by C.T. Glenn;
send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 6 November, 2009