Cantaloupe melon

19 Facts About Rockmelon (Cantaloupe)

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Rockmelon, also known as cantaloupe, is a delicious muskmelon packed with nutrients. This popular fruit has a sweet, musky aroma and refreshing orange flesh. Read on to learn 19 fascinating facts about this summertime treat!

A Sweet and Nutritious Muskmelon

Rockmelon is a variety of muskmelon (Cucumis melo). It belongs to the gourd family, which includes watermelon, honeydew, and other melons.

Native to Africa and the Middle East, rockmelon has been cultivated for thousands of years. Historians found melon seeds in Egyptian pharaoh tombs dating back to 2400 BC!

Today, rockmelons are grown in warm regions globally and the US is the world’s largest producer.

These oval fruits have a ribbed, tan rind with orange flesh. Inside, small edible seeds are encased in sweet and juicy fruit.

Rockmelons contain useful vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C – Boosts immunity and heals wounds.
  • Vitamin A – Important for good vision and cell growth.
  • Potassium – Regulates heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Folate – Promotes healthy cell and tissue development.
  • Fiber – Improves digestion and heart health.

No wonder rockmelon is considered a nutritious summer snack!

Facts About Rockmelon (Cantaloupe)

Cantaloupe melon
Cantaloupe melon

Fun Fact #1: Rockmelons are 90% Water

The high water content is what makes rockmelon so refreshing on a hot day. This juicy melon is an excellent way to hydrate.

Fun Fact #2: The Name “Cantaloupe” Comes from Italy

Rockmelon’s European name originated in Cantalupo, an Italian village near Rome where melons were first cultivated in Europe.

Fun Fact #3: Rockmelons Grow on Vines

Rockmelons develop on trailing vines with large, prickly leaves. The vines can spread over 15 feet!

Fun Fact #4: Rockmelon Flowers Only Bloom for One Day

The delicate, yellow rockmelon flowers last a single day. Bees quickly pollinate the short-lived blooms.

Fun Fact #5: The Stem End Ripens First

Rockmelons don’t ripen evenly. The end opposite the vine, called the stem end or blossom end, ripens first.

Fun Fact #6: Rockmelons Are Picky About Growing Conditions

Rockmelons thrive in sandy, well-drained soil. They require warm weather and lots of sunshine. Cool temperatures hamper growth.

Fun Fact #7: Rockmelons Originated in Africa

Rockmelons originated in southern Africa near the Kalahari Desert. Early melons were bitter and not yet sweet. Over thousands of years, melons were selectively bred to have more pulp and sweetness.

Fun Fact #8: Christopher Columbus Brought Melons to America

Close up fresh cantaloupe melons on retail display

On his second voyage in 1493, Columbus introduced melons to Haiti and other Caribbean islands. Spanish settlers later brought rockmelons to America.

Native Americans called rockmelons “muskmelons” since their fragrant aroma is similar to musk deer scent.

Fun Fact #9: Rockmelons Grow Well in Arizona and California

Warm, dry states like Arizona and California have ideal melon-growing weather. Over half of America’s cantaloupes are produced in these two states.

Fun Fact #10: Rockmelons are Picky About Rainfall

Too much rain causes rockmelon roots to rot and invites disease. Growers carefully monitor irrigation since rockmelons can’t tolerate “wet feet”.

Fun Fact #11: Rockmelons are Ready 85-95 Days After Planting

From blossom to ripe fruit takes rockmelons about three months. The rind spotting signals when fruits are perfectly sweet.

Fun Fact #12: Rockmelons Continue Ripening After Picking

Harvesting rockmelons early allows them to finish ripening off the vines. The stem scar turns tan when fruits are fully ripe.

Fun Fact #13: Rockmelons Have a Short Shelf Life

Ripe rockmelons last 1-2 weeks refrigerated. The delicate fruits get watery and mealy if left at room temperature too long.

Fun Fact #14: Rockmelons are Served in Fruit Salads and Desserts

Beyond eating fresh slices, rockmelons pair well with fruits in salad, salsa, smoothies, and ice pops. Their sweetness works nicely in fruit tarts too.

Fun Fact #15: Rockmelons are 90% Water

The high water content is what makes rockmelon so refreshing on a hot day. This juicy melon is an excellent way to hydrate.

Fun Fact #16: Many Cultivars Exist

Cantaloupe melon slices, full frame food background
Cantaloupe melon slices, full frame food background

There are over 300 named cultivars of rockmelon! Popular varieties include Ambrosia, Athena, Goddess, and Sarah’s Choice. Each has a unique rind pattern, flesh color, sweetness, and ripening time.

Fun Fact #17: The Armenians Grew Melons Over 4,000 Years Ago

Melon seeds found in an Armenian cave confirm melons were eaten before 2000 BC. Ancient melon varieties were small and bitter compared to modern sweet rockmelons.

Fun Fact #18: Rockmelons are Difficult to Ship Long Distances

Since rockmelons bruise and squish easily, commercial growers pick them firm and ship quickly to prevent spoilage. International shipping is limited.

Fun Fact #19: The Small Intestine Absorbs Rockmelon Nutrients

When eating rockmelon, nutrients pass from the stomach into the small intestine. Villi lining the intestinal walls grab sugars, vitamins, minerals, and fluids as food matter passes through. Absorbed nutrients then enter the bloodstream to feed our cells.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rockmelons are a sweet, nutritious type of muskmelon.
  • The name “cantaloupe” originated from an Italian village.
  • Rockmelons thrive in hot, sunny climates with well-drained soil.
  • Christopher Columbus introduced melons to the Caribbean.
  • There are over 300 varieties of rockmelon.
  • Rockmelons don’t ship well, so commercial growers harvest them early and transport quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are rockmelons called cantaloupe?

Rockmelons were named cantaloupe because they were first cultivated in Europe around Cantalupo, an Italian village near Rome. The name stuck!

How do you pick a ripe rockmelon?

Choose rockmelons with tan, netted rinds and a sweet aroma. Ripe fruits feel slightly soft at the stem end and sound hollow when tapped. Avoid pale melons lacking fragrance or very firm, hard melons.

Can you eat rockmelon rind?

Rockmelon rind is edible when very young and tender. As fruits ripen and rinds toughen, they become too bitter and difficult to chew. It’s best to just eat the sweet inner orange flesh.

Why are seeds inside rockmelons?

Like all fruits, rockmelon seeds allow the plant to reproduce. As melons mature, the seeds develop within the protective, nourishing fruit flesh. When eaten, seeds pass through animals and are dispersed in new locations to grow new vines.

What is the white stuff around rockmelon seeds?

The white threads around the seeds are called placental tissue. This connects and anchors the seeds as they develop. It’s harmless to eat but some prefer to spit it out.

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