All puns aside, the cucumber family - Cucurbitaceae in Botanical Latin), dominates the late summer vegetable garden. Given the familiarity and diversity of the countless of varieties of Cucurbits in our diets and decor (think: squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and gourds) one might assume that there are hundreds and hundreds of species given the diversity, but don't let that riot of color, texture, flavor and usefulness mislead you - although taxonomists argue as to precisely how may species there actually are, what I found most interesting, was what I didn't know about Cucurbitaceae.
I knew much already - that cucumbers are related to watermelons, and that all including squashes and pumpkins are considered cucurbits, but I found the fact that not all share the same genus and species, more than a little interesting. Even more curious, was that I often confused the details, as the genus of some, sounded similar, so here is a primer to the family Cucurbitaceae (don't worry, not too geeky, just a few facts to make you sound smaht.).
Not all Curcurbita are the same. Sure, they are related, but when one begins to look at the actual Latin names of familiar ones (like Luffa Squash, and cucumbers which I had already assumed were from a different genus, but I never knew that Cucurbita was not only Latin for 'gourd' and a term used to group all those within the plant Family Cucurbitaceae, but that it is also a Genus itself, and one which should never be confused with the genus Cucumis, the genus which includes Muskmelons (Cucumis melo) - which, are grouped along with cucumbers (Cucumis sativis), while Watermelons are a completely different genus altogether (although, one may think that they were closer to cucumbers than muskmelons are.).