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Overview

Brief Summary

Cucumis melo, melon, is a member of the horticulturally diverse gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) likely native to Central Asia (although uncultivated relatives are indigenous to tropical and sub-tropical Africa). Melons have been developed into numerous varieties that are now cultivated in warm areas worldwide for their juicy, edible, often musky-scented flesh.

Melon plants are frost-tender annuals with soft, hairy climbing or trailing vines with tendrils, and large round to lobed leaves. Flowers are unisexual; female flowers are yellow, and around 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter. Fruits (pepos) vary considerably in size, shape, texture, flavors, and rind and flesh colors across the numerous cultivars, but generally weigh from 1 to 5 kilograms (2 to 11 pounds). The center of the fruit is filled with white, oblong seeds, around 1 cm long.

There are seven major groups of cultivated melon varieties (sometimes divided into ten groups, or two subspecies). Among them are the Cantalupensis group (name after Cantalupo, near Rome, where they were developed), which have sweet orange flesh and a warty rind; the Inodorous group, or winter melons, which are large, smooth-skinned, and mildly flavored, including the honeydew and casaba melons; and the Reticulatis group, netted or nutmeg melons, with sweet orange flesh (although some green-fleshed varieties have been developed) and a netted rind, including small muskmelons and Persian melons. Other groups are the Flexuosus (snake or serpent melons), Conomon (oriental pickling melons), Chito (mango melons), and Dudaim (stinking melons).

Cantaloupes, which are a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, are widely cultivated for commercial use in Europe. The melons often sold as cantaloupes in North America are more typically netted melons, which, along with the winter melons, are commercially grown and important in parts of the U.S., with numerous cultivars adapted to growing conditions of various regions. Snake, pickling, and mango melons, used for pickles and preserves, and stinking melons, which are ornamental and fragrant, are grown locally in Eurasia. Melons are susceptible to many serious fungal, viral, and bacterial and insect pests, which limits production.

Melons were known and cultivated in ancient times by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and were used as medicinals. Domestication and development of horticultural varieties was also important in India, Persia, south Russia, and China. Herbals 16th and 17th century Europe list many medicinal uses. The seeds have been used to treat intestinal parasites, but must be used with caution, as sprouting seeds produce toxic compounds. Melons are primarily eaten fresh, but in various parts of Africa, oil expressed from the seeds is used in cooking.

The term "melon" is also used to refer to a number of other species: watermelon (Citrullus vulgarism); Chinese watermelon or wax gourd (Benincasa hispida); melon shrub or pear melon (Solanum muricata); papaya, sometimes called melon tree (Carica papaya); and others.

(Encyclopedia Britanica 1993, Hedrick 1919, Kirkbride 1993, PFAF 2011, Simon et al. 1993, Whittaker and Davis 1962)

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution: In disturbed areas at lower elevations, collected in Gurabo and Lajas. An African species that has given rise to several races with edible fruits through artificial selection. Among these are the “cantaloupe” and the “honeydew.”

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Widely cultivated in tropical and warm countries.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Annual or sometimes perennial (in wild form), trailing, prostrate or rarely climbing herb. Stem angular and hirsute, sometimes becoming circular and glabrous. Leaves ± reniform, 5-angled or shallowly 5-lobed, lobes obtuse, both surfaces covered with soft villous hairs; size variable, 5-15 cm long and as much broad, smaller in wild forms. Male flowers fasciculate; peduncle 5-3 cm long. Calyx tube villous, 5-8 mm long, sepals subulate. Corolla 1-2 cm long. Fruits variable in size, shape, texture and colour, generally glabrous. Seeds white, oblong and emarginate.
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Elevation Range

200-800 m
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Diagnostic Description

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Ecology

Associations

Foodplant / sap sucker
Aphis gossypii sucks sap of live, distorted leaf of Cucumis melo
Remarks: season: mainly under glass

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Cladosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Cladosporium cucumerinum infects and damages live Cucumis melo
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
pycnidium of Colletotrichum coelomycetous anamorph of Colletotrichum lagenarium infects and damages live fruit of Cucumis melo
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / shot hole causer
effuse colony of Corynespora dematiaceous anamorph of Corynespora cassiicola causes shot holes on live leaf of Cucumis melo

Foodplant / spot causer
erumpent pycnidium of Ascochyta coelomycetous anamorph of Didymella bryoniae causes spots on live stem of Cucumis melo

Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces orontii parasitises live Cucumis melo

Foodplant / parasite
sporangium of Pseudoperonospora cubensis parasitises live Cucumis melo

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cucumis melo

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cucumis melo

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Leaf: Used for scrotal hernias in NW Guyana.

  • van Andel, T. R. 2000. Non-timber Forest Products of the North-West District of Guyana. Part I: 326 pp., Part II: A Field Guide, 358 pp. Tropenbos-Guyana Series 8B. Georgetown, Guyana: Tropenbos-Guyana Programme.

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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Folk medicine

Comments: In Colombia, the seeds are considered to be taenifuges. The root is valued as an emetic in Mexico and Colombia.

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Wikipedia

Muskmelon

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) is a species of melon that has been developed into many cultivated varieties. These include smooth skinned varieties such as honeydew, crenshaw and casaba, and different netted cultivars (cantaloupe, Persian melon and Santa Claus or Christmas melon). The Armenian cucumber is also a variety of muskmelon, but its shape, taste, and culinary uses more closely resemble those of a cucumber. The large number of cultivars in this species approaches that found in wild cabbage, though morphological variation is not as extensive. It is a fruit of a type called pepo. Muskmelon is native to Iran, Anatolia, Armenia, and adjacent areas on the west and the east which is believed to be their center of origin and development, with a secondary center including the northwest provinces of India and Afghanistan. Although truly wild forms of C. melo have not been found, several related wild species have been noted in those regions.

Genetics[edit]

Genomic information
NCBI genome ID10697
Ploidydiploid
Genome size374.77 Mb
Number of chromosomes12
Year of completion2012

Muskmelons are monoecious plants. They do not cross with watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, or squash, but varieties within the species intercross frequently.[1] The genome of Cucumis melo L. was first sequenced in 2012.[2]

Nutrition[edit]

Cantaloupe melons are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, and a good source of potassium.[3]

Uses[edit]

In addition to their consumption when fresh, melons are sometimes dried. Other varieties are cooked, or grown for their seeds, which are processed to produce melon oil. Still other varieties are grown only for their pleasant fragrance.[4] The Japanese liqueur Midori is flavored with muskmelon.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

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Notes

Economic Significance

Cucumis melo is the species of melon from which the popular fruits cantaloupe and honey dew are derived.

  • B.C. Bennett.  2007.  Chapter 3:  Twenty-five Important Plant Families.  B.C. Bennett, editor.  UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems.  http://eolss.net.
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