Melothria scabra

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Melothria scabra
Melothria scabra fruit.jpg
Vine with fruit
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Melothria
M. scabra
Binomial name
Melothria scabra
  • Melothria costensis C.Jeffrey
  • Melothria donnell-smithii var. hirtella Cogn.
  • Melothria donnell-smithii var. rotundifolia Cogn.

Melothria scabra, commonly known as the cucamelon, Mexican miniature watermelon, Mexican sour cucumber, Mexican sour gherkin, mouse melon, or pepquinos,[2][3][4][5] is a species of flowering plant in the cucurbit family grown for its edible fruit.[6] Its native range spans Mexico to Venezuela.[1] Fruits are about the size of grapes and taste like cucumbers with a tinge of sourness.[7] It has been eaten by indigenous peoples since before Western colonization of the Americas began.[7]


Melothria scabra female flower

Melothria scabra is a vine similar in morphology to Melothria pendula.[8] It has a climbing habit, and typically grows 2.5–3 m (8.2–9.8 ft) tall.[6] It is fast growing:[6] germination under favourable conditions takes approximately 10 days, with plants reaching maturity in approximately 60–75 days.[7][9] It is a perennial species, but as it is not frost hardy it is often grown as an annual.[6] Its leaves have three or five lobes, and are 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) in length and width.[10] The leaf margin is undulate or dentate, the apex is caudate, and the leaf base is cordate.[10] The leaf surface is scabrous; the upper surface is covered with small hairs called trichomes.[10] Similar to some types of cucumber,[11] these plants are monoecious, producing both male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers on the same plant.[10][12] Flowers are small and yellow, and are approximately 4 mm (0.2 in) in diameter.[6] Unusually for the cucurbits, the female flowers appear before the male flowers.[7] These plants can pollinate themselves, but the individual flowers are not self-fertile. Each plant can produce hundreds of fruits,[9] which develop at the base of the female flowers (the ovaries are inferior).[13] Fruits are olive-shaped,[6] grow to 2.5–4 cm (1.0–1.6 in) in length, and 1.5–2.5 cm (0.6–1.0 in) in width, and are green with dark green stripes.[8] In contrast to the fruits of most other wild species in the cucurbit family, the fruit of Melothria scabra has a sweet rather than bitter flesh.[14] Plants are drought resistant and pest-resistant relative to other cucumbers.[15]


Binomial name[edit]

The genus name Melothria is from Ancient Greek μηλοθρων: mēlothrōn 'kind of white grape' in reference to small grapevine fruits born by the genus. The specific epithet scabra is Latin for 'rough, scabby'.

Common names[edit]

The English language common name 'cucamelon' arose in the 1980s; it is a portmanteau of 'cucumber' and 'melon'.[16] The Spanish language common name 'sandita' translates as 'little watermelon';[15] its etymology is sandía 'watermelon' + ita, a suffix used to indicate something is small.[17][18]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Melothria scabra is native to Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico,[i] Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela,[1] where it grows in forests and thickets.[8]


Melothria scabra is susceptible to infection by Pseudoperonospora cubensis,[19][20][21] a plant pathogen that causes cucurbit downy mildew.[22] It is also susceptible to infection by another plant pathogen, Podosphaera xanthii, which causes powdery mildew.[23] Plants are reported to be susceptible to infection by Cucumber mosaic virus.[24]


Melothria scabra is cultivated as a minor crop for its fruits,[14] which are eaten raw or pickled.[25]


  1. ^ In Mexico, Melothria scabra is native to the following WGSRPD level-3 floristic units: Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, and Mexico Southwest.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Melothria scabra Naudin". Plants of the World Online. Kew Science. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Pepquinos – World's Smallest Watermelons". 13 July 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  3. ^ "'Micro melons' 20 times smaller than regular size". The Daily Telegraph. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  4. ^ William Woys Weaver (2005). "Mouse Melons". Mother Earth News. Archived from the original on 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  5. ^ "Melothria scabra (MEESC)". EPPO Global Database. 2017-03-14. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Melothria scabra | cucamelon". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c d Mahr, Susan. "Mouse Melon or Mexican Sour Cucumber, Melothria scabra". Wisconsin Horticulture. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b c Woodson, Robert E.; Schery, Robert W.; Wunderlin, Richard P. (1978). "Flora of Panama. Part IX. Family 182. Cucurbitaceae". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 65 (1): 285–366. doi:10.2307/2395357. ISSN 0026-6493.
  9. ^ a b Rice, Emily; Curtis, Kynda R. (2021). "Drought-Tolerant Options for Southwest Agriculture: Edible Produce". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ a b c d "Melothria scabra Naudin". Retrieved 2021-06-20.
  11. ^ Pawełkowicz, Magdalena Ewa; Skarzyńska, Agnieszka; Pląder, Wojciech; Przybecki, Zbigniew (2019-03-13). "Genetic and molecular bases of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) sex determination". Molecular Breeding. 39 (3): 50. doi:10.1007/s11032-019-0959-6. ISSN 1572-9788.
  12. ^ "Melothria L." Plants of the World Online. Kew Science. Retrieved 2021-06-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Melothria scabra". Kwantlen Polytechnic University School of Horticulture Plant Database. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ a b Chomicki, Guillaume; Schaefer, Hanno; Renner, Susanne S. (2020). "Origin and domestication of Cucurbitaceae crops: insights from phylogenies, genomics and archaeology". New Phytologist. 226 (5): 1240–1255. doi:10.1111/nph.16015. ISSN 1469-8137.
  15. ^ a b Spurrier, Jeff (2013-05-14). "Mouse melon, a.k.a. Mexican gherkin: Tiny fruit is big on cute". LA Times.
  16. ^ "Definition of cucamelon". Oxford University Press. 2020. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "English Translation of "sandía"". Collins Spanish-English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Translation of "-ito" into English". Oxford University Press. 2020. Retrieved 2021-06-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ Wilson, Guy West (1908). "Studies in North American Peronosporales-IV. Host Index". Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 35 (11): 543–554. doi:10.2307/2479110. ISSN 0040-9618.
  20. ^ Ellett, C. Wayne (1970). "Annotated List of the Personosporales of Ohio (I. Albuginaceae and Peronosporaceae)". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Ellett, C. Wayne (1989). "Ohio plant disease index". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Savory, Elizabeth A.; Granke, Leah L.; Quesada-Ocampo, Lina M.; Varbanova, Marina; Hausbeck, Mary K.; Day, Brad (2011). "The cucurbit downy mildew pathogen Pseudoperonospora cubensis". Molecular Plant Pathology. 12 (3): 217–226. doi:10.1111/j.1364-3703.2010.00670.x. ISSN 1364-3703. PMC 6640371. PMID 21355994.
  23. ^ Rennberger, G.; Kousik, C. S.; Keinath, A. P. (2017-09-06). "First Report of Powdery Mildew on Cucumis zambianus, Cucurbita digitata, and Melothria scabra Caused by Podosphaera xanthii in the United States". Plant Disease. 102 (1): 246–246. doi:10.1094/PDIS-06-17-0916-PDN. ISSN 0191-2917.
  24. ^ Price, W. C. (1940). "Comparative Host Ranges of Six Plant Viruses". American Journal of Botany. 27 (7): 530–541. doi:10.2307/2437088. ISSN 0002-9122.
  25. ^ Watson, Sereno (1886). "Contributions to American Botany". Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 22: 396–481. doi:10.2307/25129875. ISSN 0199-9818.

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