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"Rockmelon" redirects here. For the band, see Rockmelons. For other uses, see Cantaloupe (disambiguation).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucumis
Species: C. melo
Subspecies: C. melo subsp. melo
Variety: C. melo var. cantalupo
Trinomial name
Cucumis melo var. cantalupo[1]
  • Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis Naudin
  • Cucumis melo var. reticulatus Naudin

Cantaloupe (also cantelope, cantaloup, muskmelon (India and the United States), mushmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, honeydew, Persian melon, or spanspek (South Africa)) refers to a variety of Cucumis melo, a species in the family Cucurbitaceae.

Cantaloupes range in weight from 0.5 to 5 kilograms (1.1 to 11.0 lb). Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted, orange-fleshed melons of Europe.[2] However, in more recent usage, it has come to mean any orange-fleshed melon (C. melo) and is the most popular variety of melon in North America.[2]


The name is derived via French from Italian Cantalupo which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome after introduction from Armenia.[3] It was first mentioned in English literature in 1739.[2]


The cantaloupe most likely originated in a region from Iran to India and Africa.[2] It was later introduced to Europe and, around 1890, became a commercial crop in the United States.[2]


Macro photo of the skin of a North American cantaloupe

The European cantaloupe 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, common in the United States, Mexico, and in some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a net-like (or reticulated) skin covering.[2] It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-brown rind.[2] Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common in the US market.[citation needed]


In 2013, world production of melons, including cantaloupes, was 29.4 million tonnes, with China accounting for 49% of the total (14.4 million tonnes).[4] Other significant producers in 2013 were Turkey, Iran, Egypt and India (range of 1.7 to 1 million tonnes).[4]


Cantaloupes on a fruit stand

Because they are descended from tropical plants and tend to require warm temperatures throughout a relatively long growing period, cantaloupes grown in temperate climates are frequently started indoors for 14 days or longer before being transplanted outdoors.

Cantaloupes are often picked, and shipped, before fully ripening. Postharvest practices include treatment with a sodium hypochlorite or bleach wash to prevent mold and Salmonella growth. This treatment, because it can mask the melon's musky aroma, can make it difficult for the purchaser to judge the relative quality of different cantaloupes.

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.

Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, Salmonella[5]—it is recommended to wash and scrub a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. The fruit should be refrigerated and consumed less than three days after cutting to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.[6]

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.[7]


Cantaloupe, raw
Canteloupe and cross section.jpg
Cantaloupe in cross-section
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 141 kJ (34 kcal)
8.16 g
Sugars 7.86 g
Dietary fiber 0.9 g
0.19 g
0.84 g
Vitamin A equiv.
169 μg
2020 μg
26 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.041 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.019 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.734 mg
0.105 mg
Vitamin B6
0.072 mg
Folate (B9)
21 μg
7.6 mg
Vitamin C
36.7 mg
Vitamin K
2.5 μg
9 mg
0.21 mg
12 mg
0.041 mg
15 mg
267 mg
16 mg
0.18 mg
Other constituents
Water 90.2 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Raw cantaloupe is 90% water, 8% carbohydrates, 0.8% protein and 0.3% fat, providing 34 Calories (kcal) and 2020 mg of the provitamin A orange carotenoid, beta-carotene per 100 gram amount (table). Fresh cantaloupe is an excellent source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C (44% DV) and vitamin A (21% DV), with other nutrients in negligible content (less than 10% DV) (table).


  1. ^ a b "Taxon: Cucumis melo L. subsp. melo var. cantalupo Ser.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Area. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Marion Eugene Ensminger, Audrey H. Ensminger (1993). Cantaloupe in Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. CRC Press. pp. 329–331. ISBN 084938981X. 
  3. ^ "Cantaloupe". Oxford English Dictionary. 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Production/crops for melons, including cantaloupes". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT). 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  5. ^ 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. PMID 18559128. 
  6. ^ "Kentucky: Cabinet for Health and Family Services - Salmonella2012". Retrieved 2012-08-18. 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. 
  7. ^ Mary Bellis, History of Penicillin - Alexander Fleming - John Sheehan - Andrew Moyer

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