Cross Pollination Between Cucumbers And Summer Squash
If you’re a gardener, you may wonder if cucumbers and summer squash can actually cross pollinate. Well, the answer is simple but requires a little bit of explanation.
As gardener, you have more than likely either grown or considered growing summer squash and cucumbers, especially if you live in a warmer climate. If you are a seed saver, you will likely have some familiarity with the fact that certain members in a plant family can sometimes have the potential to cross pollinate with one another. If you are a grower and seed saver of fruit for Cucurbitaceae plants which includes cucumbers and summer squash, you may also be aware of the fact that if cross pollination did occur between cucumbers and summer squash, that the fruit produced would not appear abnormal as a result of the cross pollination, but that the crossed genetics would show up only in the second generation if you planted from the seeds.
Both summer squash and cucumbers are planted and grown during the warmer months of the year and pollination is typically carried out by bees, unless of course you opt to hand pollinate and ensure no cross pollination occurs. Cross pollination occurring between plants of the same variety, such as two summer squash plants, is a healthy and desirable action promoting diversity in the genetics, but just the same even with a single squash plant, as long as there are enough male and female flowers on the plant, self pollination can occur producing fruit that is just fine for consumption.
Cross pollination however, between the two varieties, cucumbers and summer squash is not desirable, but it is also not possible. The reason why this would not be possible simply comes down to the plant genetics. While summer squash and cucumbers both belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, they are simply not related closely enough to cross pollinate. Cucumber varieties are members of the Cucumis genus and the C. Savitus species a far reach from summer squash. Summer squash varieties belong to the Cucurbita genus and the C. Pepo species. Summer squash varieties are harvested at fruit immaturity and should not be confused with winter squash varieties harvested at maturity belonging to the C. Maxima, C. Moschata, and C. Argyrosperma species, just the same however, varieties of these species also could not cross pollinate with cucumbers. Since summer squash varieties and cucumber varieties are members of different genus groups and species, there is no risk for cross pollination to occur between them.
So as a gardener, you can rest easy planting cucumbers right along side summer squash without any concern of producing non true to type seed for planting with next year.
Naeve, Linda, Department of Horticulture (1996). Issue: IC-475(22). Cross-pollination Between Vine Crops. Horticulture & HomePestNews,IowaStateUniversityExtension.
Wehner, T.C., Barrett, C. (1996). Intercrossability of Cucurbit Species. Cucurbit Breeding, Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
Retrieved from: http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/cbintercross.html
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