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European cantaloupe (true cantaloupe)
SpeciesC. melo
SubspeciesC. melo subsp. melo
Cultivar groupCantalupensis Group
(incorporating Reticulatus Group)[1]
North American cantaloupe (muskmelon)

The cantaloupe (/ˈkæntəlp/ KAN-tə-lohp) is a type of true melon (Cucumis melo) from the family Cucurbitaceae. Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted, orange-fleshed melons of Europe, but today may refer to any orange-fleshed melon of the C. melo species,[2] including the netted muskmelon which is called cantaloupe in North America, rockmelon in Australia and New Zealand, and spanspek in Southern Africa. Cantaloupes range in mass from 0.5 to 5 kilograms (1 to 11 lb).

Etymology and origin[edit]

The name cantaloupe was derived in the 18th century via French cantaloup from The Cantus Region of Italian Cantalupo, which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome, after the fruit was introduced there from Armenia.[3] It was first mentioned in English literature in 1739.[2] The cantaloupe most likely originated in a region from South Asia to Africa.[2] It was later introduced to Europe, and around 1890, became a commercial crop in the United States.[2]

Melon derived from use in Old French as meloun during the 13th century, and from Medieval Latin melonem, a kind of pumpkin.[4] It was among the first plants to be domesticated and cultivated.[4]

The South African English name spanspek dates back at least as far as 18th-century Dutch Suriname: J. van Donselaar wrote in 1770, "Spaansch-spek is the name for the form that grows in Suriname which, because of its thick skin and little flesh, is less consumed."[5] A common etymology involves the Spanish-born Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, who ate canteloupe for breakfast while her husband and 19th-century governor of Cape Colony, Sir Harry Smith, ate bacon and eggs; the fruit was termed Spanish bacon (Afrikaans Spaanse spek) by locals as a result.[6][7] However, the term had been in use well before that point.


Cantaloupe, raw
Cantaloupe in cross-section
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy141 kJ (34 kcal)
8.16 g
Sugars7.86 g
Dietary fiber0.9 g
0.18 g
0.82 g
Vitamin A equiv.
232 μg
2780 μg
32 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.049 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.027 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.694 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.085 mg
Vitamin B6
0.04 mg
Folate (B9)
14 μg
Vitamin C
10.9 mg
Vitamin K
2.7 μg
9 mg
0.38 mg
13 mg
0.046 mg
17 mg
157 mg
30 mg
0.44 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water90.2 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[8] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[9]

The European cantaloupe or true cantaloupe, C. melo var. cantalupensis, is lightly ribbed with a sweet and flavorful flesh and a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.[2]

The North American cantaloupe or muskmelon, C. melo var. reticulatus, common in the United States, Mexico, and some parts of Canada, is a different variety of C. melo, a melon with a reticulated ("net-like") peel.[2] It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh.


In 2016, global production of melons, including cantaloupes, totaled 31.2 million tons, with China accounting for 51% of the world total (15.9 million tons).[10] Other significant countries growing cantaloupe were Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and India producing 1 to 1.9 million tons, respectively.[10]

California grows 75% of the cantaloupes in the US.[11]



Cantaloupe is normally eaten as a fresh fruit, as a salad, or as a dessert with ice cream or custard. Melon pieces wrapped in prosciutto are a familiar antipasto. The seeds are edible and may be dried for use as a snack.

Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, Salmonella[12]—it is recommended that a melon be washed and scrubbed thoroughly before cutting and consumption to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.[13]

A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois, market in 1943 was found to contain the highest yielding strain of mold for penicillin production, after a worldwide search.[14][15]


Raw cantaloupe is 90% water, 8% carbohydrates, 0.8% protein and 0.2% fat (table). In a reference amount of 100 grams (3.5 oz), raw cantaloupe supplies 140 kJ (34 kcal) of food energy, and is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin A (29% DV) and a moderate source of vitamin C (13% DV). Other micronutrients are in negligible amounts (less than 10% DV) (table).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pitrat, Michel (2017). "Melon Genetic Resources: Phenotypic Diversity and Horticultural Taxonomy". In Grumet, Rebecca (ed.). Genetics and Genomics of Cucurbitaceae. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models. Vol. 20. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 25–60. doi:10.1007/7397_2016_10. ISBN 978-3-319-49332-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Marion Eugene Ensminger; Audrey H. Ensminger (1993). "Cantaloupe". Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia (2nd Edition, Volume 1 ed.). CRC Press. pp. 329–331. ISBN 084938981X.
  3. ^ "Cantaloupe". Oxford English Dictionary. 2016. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Melon". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper Inc. 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  5. ^ "How spanspek got its South African name". 19 October 2018.
  6. ^ "How did spanspek get its name?". Food Lover's Market. 15 January 2018.
  7. ^ Grahl, Bernd (18 December 2015). "How the cantaloupe melon received its name spanspek".
  8. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  9. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b "Production of melons, including cantaloupes for 2016 (Crops/world regions/production quantity from pick lists)". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT). 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  11. ^ Werner, Erika; Reiley, Laura (27 August 2021). "California's 'Cantaloupe Center' struggles to reign supreme as drought pummels agriculture across the West". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  12. ^ Munnoch, S. A.; Ward, K.; Sheridan, S.; Fitzsimmons, G. J.; Shadbolt, C. T.; Piispanen, J. P.; Wang, Q.; Ward, T. J.; Worgan, T. L. M.; Oxenford, C.; Musto, J. A.; McAnulty, J.; Durrheim, D. N. (2009). "A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul in Australia associated with cantaloupe consumption". Epidemiology and Infection. 137 (3): 367–74. doi:10.1017/S0950268808000861. hdl:1959.13/39126. PMID 18559128. S2CID 206280340.
  13. ^ "Kentucky: Cabinet for Health and Family Services – Salmonella2012". Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2012. In general, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing and scrubbing the rinds of all cantaloupes and melons prior to cutting and slicing, and to keep sliced melons refrigerated prior to eating.
  14. ^ Bellis, Mary (30 June 2017). "The History of Penicillin: Alexander Fleming, John Sheehan, Andrew J Moyer". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Penicillin Timeline". United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. 14 February 2018. Then the Peoria researchers made yet another breakthrough. Searching for a superior strain of Penicillium, they found it on a moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria garbage can. When the new strain was made available to drug companies, production skyrocketed.

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