(Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai
|Watermelon output in 2005|
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.), family Cucurbitaceae) is a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp). Pepos are derived from an inferior ovary, and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon – although not in the genus Cucumis – has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually deep red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow and even green if not ripe).
Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa, where it is found growing wild. It reaches maximum genetic diversity there, with sweet, bland and bitter forms. In the 19th century, Alphonse de Candolle claimed the watermelon was indigenous to tropical Africa. Though Citrullus colocynthis is often considered to be a wild ancestor of watermelon and is now found native in north and west Africa, it has been suggested on the basis of chloroplast DNA investigations that the cultivated and wild watermelon diverged independently from a common ancestor, possibly C. ecirrhosus from Namibia.
Evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley was found from the second millennium BC. Watermelon seeds have been found at Twelfth Dynasty sites and in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Watermelon is also mentioned in the Bible as a food eaten by the ancient Israelites while they were in bondage in Egypt.
By the 10th century, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world's single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; according to John Mariani's Dictionary of American Food and Drink, "watermelon" made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.
Watermelons were grown by Native Americans in the 16th century. Early French explorers found the fruit being cultivated in the Mississippi Valley. Many sources list the watermelon as being introduced in Massachusetts as early as 1629. Southern food historian John Egerton has said he believes African slaves helped introduce the watermelon to the United States. Texas Agricultural Extension horticulturalist Jerry Parsons lists African slaves and European colonists as having distributed watermelons to many areas of the world. Parsons also mentions the crop being farmed by Native Americans in Florida (by 1664) and the Colorado River area (by 1799). Other early watermelon sightings include the Midwestern states (1673), Connecticut (1747) and the Illiana region (1822).
Charles Fredric Andrus, a horticulturist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, set out to produce a disease-resistant and wilt-resistant watermelon. The result, in 1954, was "that gray melon from Charleston". Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship. Its adaptability meant it could be grown over a wide geographical area. It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases: anthracnose and fusarium wilt.
Today, farmers in approximately 44 states in the US grow watermelon commercially, and almost all these varieties have some 'Charleston Gray' in their lineage. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the US's largest watermelon producers. This now-common watermelon is often large enough that groceries often sell half or quarter melons. Some smaller, spherical varieties of watermelon, both red- and yellow-fleshed, are sometimes called "icebox melons".
|Top Five Watermelon Producers – 2011
Because seedless hybrids have sterile pollen, pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted. Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollination is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of hives per acre, or pollinator density, increases to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive). Watermelons have a longer growing period than other garden plants and can often take up to 85 days of growing to mature.
The amino-acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analyzed. Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kilograms, an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma; this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorders.
Watermelon rinds, usually a light green or white color, are also edible and contain many hidden nutrients[vague], but most people avoid eating them due to their unappealing flavor. They are sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the skin and fruit is removed, and the rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum. Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US. Watermelon juice can be made into wine.
Watermelon is mildly diuretic and contains large amounts of carotenoids. Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene. Preliminary research indicates the consumption of watermelon may have antihypertensive effects.
- The 'Carolina Cross' produced the current world record watermelon weighing 262 pounds (119 kg). It has green skin, red flesh and commonly produces fruit between 65 and 150 pounds (29 and 68 kg). It takes about 90 days from planting to harvest.
- The 'Yellow Crimson' has a yellow-colored flesh. It has been described as sweeter and more honey-flavored than the more popular red-flesh watermelon.
- The 'Orangeglo' has a very sweet orange flesh, and is a large, oblong fruit weighing 9–14 kg (20–30 pounds). It has a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes. It takes about 90–100 days from planting to harvest.
- The 'Moon and Stars' variety was created in 1926. The rind is purple/black and has many small, yellow circles (stars) and one or two large, yellow circles (moon). The melon weighs 9–23 kg (20–50 pounds). The flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is also spotted. The time from planting to harvest is about 90 days.
- The 'Cream of Saskatchewan' consists of small, round fruits around 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet white flesh and black seeds. It can grow well in cool climates. It was originally brought to Saskatchewan, Canada, by Russian immigrants. The melon takes 80–85 days from planting to harvest.
- The 'Melitopolski' has small, round fruits roughly 28–30 cm (11–12 inches) in diameter. It is an early ripening variety that originated from the Volga River region of Russia, an area known for cultivation of watermelons. The Melitopolski watermelons are seen piled high by vendors in Moscow in summer. This variety takes around 95 days from planting to harvest.
- The 'Densuke' watermelon has round fruit up to 25 lb (11 kg). The rind is black with no stripes or spots. It is grown only on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, where up to 10,000 watermelons are produced every year. In June 2008, one of the first harvested watermelons was sold at an auction for 650,000 yen (US$ 6,300), making it the most expensive watermelon ever sold. The average selling price is generally around 25,000 yen ($ 250).
In Japan, farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle. The cubic shape was originally designed to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the cubic watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones, and much of their appeal to consumers is in their novelty. Pyramid-shaped watermelons have also been developed and any polyhedral shape may potentially also be used.
- In Vietnamese culture, watermelon seeds are consumed during the Vietnamese New Year's holiday, Tết, as a snack.
- Stereotypical caricatures may depict African Americans as being inordinately fond of watermelon (along with fried chicken), to the point where some African Americans do not want to be seen in public eating watermelon.[page needed]
- The Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill on 17 April 2007 declaring watermelon as the official state vegetable, with some controversy surrounding whether a watermelon is a vegetable or a fruit.
- The citrulline in watermelon (especially in the rind) is a known stimulator of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is thought to relax and expand blood vessels, much like the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, and may even increase libido.
- Fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL started a tradition of hollowing out a watermelon and wearing it as a makeshift football helmet (the color of the Roughriders is green). During the 2009 Grey Cup in Calgary (between the Montreal Alouettes and the Roughriders), thousands of watermelons had to be imported to Calgary supermarkets to prevent a shortage being caused by Rider fans.
- The town of Chinchilla in Queensland, Australia, holds a biannual festival celebrating all things melon.
- The ten-lined June beetle is often affectionately referred to as a watermelon beetle, due to the green, striped pattern on its back.
- It is the symbol of the Turkish city, Diyarbakır.
Flower stems of male and female watermelon blossoms, showing ovary on the female
Seeds of many watermelon varieties, packed in little cans, sold to farmers in the seed-shop district of Wuhan, China
- Citron melon, the ancestral form of watermelon
- Leo Gallagher, a prop comic whose most famous bit involves smashing watermelons
- List of fruits
- Vampire pumpkins and watermelons
- Watermelon steak
- Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants (1882) pp 262ff, s.v. "Water-melon".
- North Carolina State University: Watermelon biogeography.
- Dane and Liu,, "Diversity and origin of cultivated and citron type watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)" Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 54.6 (September 2007).
- Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of Plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 193.
- http://books.google.co.il/books?id=qRtUqxkB7wkC&pg=PA1063&dq=watermelon+biblical+egypt&hl=en&sa=X&ei=26HQT7DoHIO_8wPSs_i_DA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=watermelon%20biblical%20egypt&f=false Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible
- Watermelon developer dies at 101 Post and Courier, 16 July 2007
- "Statistics from: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division". UN Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database.
- Wada, M. (1930). "Über Citrullin, eine neue Aminosäure im Presssaft der Wassermelone, Citrullus vulgaris Schrad.". Biochem. Zeit. 224: 420.
- H. Mandel, N. Levy, S. Izkovitch, S. H. Korman (2005). "Elevated plasma citrulline and arginine due to consumption of Citrullus vulgaris (watermelon)". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft 28 (4): 467–472. doi:10.1007/s10545-005-0467-1. PMID 15902549.
- "Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry". Retrieved 2013-04-27.
- Diana Rattray, About.com Guide (2012-01-30). "Southern U.S. Cuisine: Judy's Pickled Watermelon Rind". Southernfood.about.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- footnote text here[dead link]
- The Associated Press (2008-07-03). "CBC News - Health - Watermelon the real passion fruit?". CBC. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- "HowStuffWorks "Health Benefits of Watermelon"". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- USA (2012-05-24). "Watermelon extract supplementation reduces an... [Am J Hypertens. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Vegetable Research & Extension Center - Icebox Watermelons". Retrieved 2008‑08‑02.
- Annie's Heirloom Seeds. "Watermelon Heirloom Seeds". Retrieved 2011‑08‑24.
- "Orangeglo Watermelon". Archived from the original on 2007‑09‑27. Retrieved 2007‑04‑23.
- "Moon and Stars Watermelon Heirloom". Retrieved 2008‑07‑15.[dead link]
- Evans, Lynette (2005‑07‑15). "Moon & Stars watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) — Seed-spittin' melons makin' a comeback". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007‑07‑06. Unknown parameter
- "Moon and Stars Watermelon". Archived from the original on 2007‑06‑02. Retrieved 2007‑04‑23.
- "Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon". Retrieved 2007‑04‑23.
- "Melitopolski Watermelon". Archived from the original on 2007‑09‑27. Retrieved 2007‑04‑23.
- "Black Japanese watermelon sold at record price". Retrieved 2008‑06‑10.[dead link]
- (BBC) Square fruit stuns Japanese shoppers BBC News Friday, 15 June 2001, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
- The Asian Texans By Marilyn Dell Brady, Texas A&M University Press
- Brown, Joshua. Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, And the Crisis of Gilded Age America. University of California Press, June 1, 2006. P. ?- ISBN 0520248147, 9780520248144
- "Oklahoma Declares Watermelon Its State Vegetable". CBS4denver. 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "Watermelon May Have Viagra-effect". Science Daily. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Watermelon shortage averted CBC News
- North Carolina State University: Watermelon breeding
- Growing watermelons in the home garden
- Blomberg, Marina (June 10, 2004). "In Season: Savory Summer Fruits." The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- "An African Native of World Popularity." Texas A&M University Aggie Horticulture website. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- Blomberg, Marina (June 10, 2004). "In Season: Savory Summer Fruits." The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- "Charles Fredric Andrus: Watermelon Breeder." Cucurbit Breeding Horticultural Science. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- "Crop Production: Icebox Watermelons." Washington State University Vancouver Research and Extension Unit website. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- Hamish, Robertson. "Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon, Tsamma)." Museums Online South Africa. Retrieved Mar. 15, 2005.
- Motes, J.E.; Damicone, John; Roberts, Warren; Duthie, Jim; Edelson, Jonathan. "Watermelon Production." Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- Parsons, Jerry, Ph.D. (June 5, 2002). "Gardening Column: Watermelons." Texas Cooperative Extension of the Texas A&M University System. Jul. 17, 2005.
- "Redneck Olympics." ISKRA television. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- Shosteck, Robert (1974). Flowers and Plants: An International Lexicon with Biographical Notes. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.: New York.
- "Watermelon." The George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved Jul. 28, 2005.
- "Watermelon Production and Consumption Demographics."
- "Watermelon History." National Watermelon Promotion Board website. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
- Wolford, Ron and Banks, Drusilla. "Watch Your Garden Grow: Watermelon." University of Illinois Extension. Retrieved Jul. 17, 2005.
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