Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Metki Painted Serpent Melon

Metki dark green serpent melons

Of the six types of cukes I grew this past summer, this was one of my favorites. Though it’s called an Armenian cucumber, botanically it’s a muskmelon (Cucumis melo, more commonly known in the form of a cantaloupe) and the species is closely related to the cucumber.

Metki Painted Serpent is an heirloom that was first introduced to Italy from Armenia as early as the 1400s. The variety has very subtle dark and light green striae, with soft and slightly fuzzy skin that never needs to be peeled.

True to its melon origin, Metki Painted Serpent is sweeter than most cucumbers but also a tad crisper. The fruits grow up to 3 feet long if left to freely climb a trellis (earning them a snazzy “snake melon” moniker), but I always pick mine when they’re a foot long and at their freshest.

Metki Painted Serpent melon cucumbers

Now, I never think to cook a cucumber, but because I view this more as a melon, I’ve had it roasted, sauteed, and even simmered in soup. (It tastes just like a squash.) If you find cooking a “cucumber” to be bizarre, put it in a salad or brine it in a pickle — it’s just as good as any ol’ cucumber!

Metki Painted Serpent melon cucumber

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I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • John Tracy
    December 10, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    This is Jay again. I found the cucumber variety that you grew. It is a longer Dark Armenian cucumber. I have grown a couple times now, selecting for long cucumbers. If you would like, I have a striped cucumber variety that you may want to try out. It is called the Striped Carosello Leccese. This cucumber is the most delicious, best textured, most gourmet cucumber I have ever had. Instead of becoming harder over time, like Armenian cucumbers do, carosello cucumbers become more tender over their lifetime. Additionally, the window of time in which they can be picked as a crisp, yet tender juicy cucumber is much longer than many Armenian cucumber varieties.

  • Jay
    October 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Dear Betty,
    I take it you purchased this variety through Baker Creek Hierloom Seeds. Did you let any go to seed to see if they developed stripes? If no stripes developed it appears that their growers were growing the Metki Dark Armenian ajacent to their Painted Serpent melons.

    • Linda Ly
      October 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Yes, the seeds came from Baker Creek. I did not let any of the plants go to seed, but faint stripes did develop on the more mature melons (the ones in this picture are fairly young).

      • Jay
        December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

        Dear Garden Betty,
        I would like to know a little bit more about this cucumber’s growth and texture, so as to try to fit it in with all the rest of the cucumber-melons I have grown. The growth of the light Armenian cucumber is 60 days or less to set fruit – it has a short amount of time the that fruit is edible and the texture is crunchy and firm. The Painted Serpent (with distinct dark and light stripes) I have grown in the past has taken between 90-100 days to set fruit, remains usable on the vine for a long period of time as it grows longer (rather than wide), and the texture is crisp, yet tender and smooth. How does the Metki Painted Serpent you grew fit into the categories of days from seed to first fruit set, fruit texture, and length of time the fruit is usable?

        • Linda Ly
          December 23, 2012 at 10:56 pm

          I don’t remember how many days it took to fruit, but it stays usable on the vine for a fairly long time (I let mine grow to about 12 inches) and the flesh stays tender.

  • Carol
    September 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    What an amazingly versatile veggie! I like to no peeling part…better for you! Thanks for sharing.

  • Bria Phillips
    September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Interesting–I’ve always been curious about those! 


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