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16 Interesting Facts About Melon

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Melons are part of the Cucurbitaceae family along with cucumbers, squash, and gourds. While we typically think of melons as a sweet fruit, they are actually classified as a vegetable. There are over 50 different varieties of melons including cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and more.

Melons have been cultivated for over 4,000 years, originating in Africa and Asia. Throughout history, melons were revered by many cultures and even used as wedding and burial gifts. Today, China is the largest producer of melons in the world followed by Turkey, Iran, and the United States.

Here are 16 fascinating facts about this diverse vegetable:

Interesting Facts About Melon

sliced fruit on white ceramic plate

1. The word “melon” derives from the Latin word melo or “apple bearer”.

Melons were named by the Romans who thought they resembled apples. The word melo led to the Greek mēlopepon meaning “apple gourd”.

Watermelons are members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family which are classified as vegetables rather than fruits. However, we typically treat watermelons as a sweet, juicy fruit.

3. There are over 1,200 cultivars of watermelon, varying significantly in size, shape, and color.

The giant variety can reach weights of over 200 pounds! Contrast this with the small, round icebox melons. Watermelon flesh also ranges from deep red, orange, yellow, and white depending on the cultivar.

4. Watermelons are 92% water, hence the name.

This high water content is why properly hydrated watermelon makes a great snack on hot summer days. The remaining 8% contains vitamins A, C, and B6 as well as lycopene and citrulline.

5. Citrulline in watermelon may reduce muscle soreness.

Recent research found citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, reduced muscle soreness in athletes up to 40%. Pretty cool to munch on watermelon after your next workout!

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Cup Diced Watermelon
Fat0.23 g
Carbs11.48 g
Protein0.93 g

6. The yellow spot on a watermelon is called the groundspot and indicates where the melon touched the ground as it ripened.

According to watermelon folklore, the groundspot can predict the melon’s sweetness too. However, there is little scientific evidence relating the groundspot to a melon’s sugar content.

7. The watermelon’s symbolic meaning is deeply rooted in American history.

African American slaves are credited with cultivating much of the Southern land with watermelon crops. Post-slavery, watermelon became a racist trope and symbol of black stereotypes. Today, watermelon imagery aims to undo harmful stereotypes.

8. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the heaviest watermelon as 350.5 lbs!

This behemoth watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005. For perspective, that’s about the size of a mature giant panda!

9. Watermelon’s scientific name has Greek and Latin roots.

The genus name Citrullus combines the Latin citrus meaning citron or citrus fruit and lanatus meaning wooly. This refers to the fuzzy rind on some watermelon varieties.

10. China produces about 70% of the world’s melons, most of which are sold domestically.

While China dominates melon production today, melons like cantaloupe originally spread from their native Africa and India along trade routes like the Silk Road. Melon seeds traveled to Europe and the Americas with settlers’ voyages too.

11. A cantaloupe refers to two different melons in Europe versus North America.

In Europe, cantaloupe refers to an orange flesh muskmelon. In the United States, cantaloupe is the common name for orange flesh-netted melons. To add to the confusion, some parts of the U.S. call cantaloupes muskmelons!

12. The net-like rind pattern on North American cantaloupes comes from hybridization with a small melon called Vedrantais in France.

Vedrantais melons have been cultivated since the 1800s in Anjou, France. When hybridized with North American cantaloupes, the Vedrantais contributed the distinct netted rind to form the common American cantaloupe.

13. Honeydew melons earned their name for their sweet taste and sticky juice.

When ripe, honeydew melons should feel velvety soft like a peach and smell like honey. The French name melon blanc (“white melon”) also refers to their pale green flesh.

14. The world record for the largest harvested honeydew belongs to Gordon Thomson of Ontario, Canada with a melon weighing 24.61 kg (54.25 lbs)!

That’s a lot of melon! Even the average honeydew is still impressive at about 6 pounds. For reference, that’s a bit smaller than a medium sized watermelon.

15. The Canary Islands are a top exporter of honeydew melons to Europe.

The Canary Islands benefit from rich volcanic soil, ample sunshine, and sufficient rainfall to grow exceptionally sweet, juicy honeydews. When visiting the Canaries, be sure to try some freshly harvested honeydew!

16. The horned melon has spikes like a medieval mace making it one of the most unique melons in the world.

Also called a kiwano, horned melons originate from Sub-Saharan Africa. When ripe, the horned melon’s spiky yellow exterior gives way to a soft, jelly-like green interior with a taste mix between cucumber, banana, and lime.


I hope these interesting melon facts gave you an appreciation for the diversity of melons around the world! From giant 200-pound watermelons to tiny sweet honeydews, melons come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. China may dominate commercial melon production today, but melons have an ancient history across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Wherever you travel, keep an eye out for any exotic or locally-famous melons like the Canary Island’s honeydews or French Vedrantais cantaloupes. And the next time you slice open a watermelon or cantaloupe from the grocery store, think about how that melon variety came to be over thousands of years of cultivation, migration, and hybridization!

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