|Binomial name||Citrullus lanatus|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the water melon are Han Kua, Hsi Kua, Melon D'Eau, Patilla, Qarbuz, Raggi, Semongka, Shuti and Yang Ch'I Kua.
People have been eating watermelons for millennia. Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in afterlife.
Archaeologists found watermelon seeds, along with the remnants of other fruits, at a 5,000-year-old settlement in Libya. Seeds, as well as paintings of watermelons, also have been discovered in Egyptian tombs built more than 4,000 years ago, including King Tut’s
An annual herb with long (up to 10 m) stems lying or creeping on the ground, with curly tendrils. Leaves are 5-20 by 3-19 cm, and hairy, usually deeply palmate with 3-5 lobes, on 2-19 cm long petioles. Male flowers on 12-45 mm long pedicels. Flowers 1-2.5 cm long, pale green. Flowers monoecious, solitary, on pedicels up to 45 mm long; with 5 shortly united petals, pale green.
In addition, they vary from pale yellow or light green (wild form) to dark green (cultivars), and with or without stripes; the pulp varies from yellow or green (wild forms) to dark red.
The wild plant must originally have come from NE Africa and passed into cultivation in the Near East, Middle East and Western Asia in prehistorical time. Water melon is Indigenous in tropical and subtropical Africa, early introduced into Mediterranean areas and Indi, and now widespread in cultivation and frequently naturalized.
It favours a dry climate and is mainly a dry season crop in monsoon areas, requiring only limited rainfall.Citrullus lanatus grows on well drained soil and seeds require soil temperatures of 70-95 0F to germinate. Root growth is impeded by compacted soil. Citrullus lanatus withstands drought better than most melons.
Watermelon flourishes on new, fertile sandy-loam soils with a high humus content. The soil must be well drained. Heavy soils should be avoided. Reasonably alkaline soil is preferable. Three watermelon pips are planted per 5 cm deep hole. They may be thinned out later. The plant width varies between 50 and 60 cm in the row and 150 and 200 cm between rows. Planting must not take place before the soil temperature is high enough. Before planting, a fertiliser application of 500 kg of 2:3:4 per ha is recommended, and after planting. When the first female flowers appear, a calcium-nitrate leaf spray may be applied, if it is available. Flood irrigation is preferable in order to limit leaf diseases to the minimum. Before planting, irrigate the soil to a depth of 1, 5 to 2 m, as that is the depth to which the roots can grow. In hot and in dry areas, one thorough irrigation is necessary every 14 days. Light irrigation at short intervals is not recommended. Pollination is very important. Weeds may not be allowed, because they compete with watermelons. Other causes of poor yield are too little water, and cold damage, which occurs when watermelon is planted too early.
The fruits, seeds and the leaves are the most commonly used parts of the fruit for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
The flowers are monoecious and are in bloom from July to August.
Pests and Diseases
Cercospora leaf spot is caused by the fungus, Cercospora citrullina, and is the most prevalent foliar disease of watermelon in south Texas, but it is not usually a serious problem. Downy mildew is caused by the fungus Pseudoperonospora cubensis, does not reliably appear in fields, but its occurrence should always be a cause for concern because of its ability to quickly increase and become uncontrollable. Gummy stem blight is caused by the fungus Didymella bryoniae, causes large, circular dark brown spots on leaves. Powdery mildew will normally be seen as a white, powdery residue primarily on the upper leaf surface, is caused by two species of fungi, Sphaerotheca fuliginea and Erysiphe cichoracearum.Damping-off is a disease that affects young seedlings. Seedlings wilt and die, or seeds may not emerge. Damping-off is caused by fungi: Rhizoctonia solani or several species of Pythium.Nematodes can substantially reduce yield of watermelon. Fusarium wilt is a soilborne disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum.
• Oil extracts from seeds (25-30 %) is used for treatment of rickets.
• Medicinal value of water-melon fruits - treatment of illnesses of kidneys and the prevention of stone's formation there.
• The seed is demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic.
• It is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages and has been used to treat bed wetting.
• The seed is also a good vermifuge and has a hypotensive action.
• A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms.
• The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge.
• The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy.
• Water melon is said to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked.
• The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes.
• The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic.
• The fruit is cut open at the one end and the first piece of flesh is eaten. The content is pounded with a stick, and this is then eaten and drunk.
• Seeds are roasted and ground into tsamma meal, a nutritious food with a pleasant nutty taste.
• Face masks made from the fruit are used as a cosmetic on delicate skins.
• Leaves and young fruits are utilised as green vegetables.
• A water-melon valuable raw material for the food-processing industry.
• Used as a fresh product, for preparation of candied fruits, pickles, water-melon honey.
Art related to the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos commonly depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or shown in close conjunction with the dead. This theme appears regularly on ceramics and in other art from the holiday. Watermelons also appear as a subject in Mexican still life art. In Vietnam watermelon is used as part of the Vietnamese New Year's holiday, T?t, because it is considered a lucky colour. The seeds are also consumed during the holiday as a snack. Racist caricatures may depict African Americans as being inordinately fond of watermelon. The Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill on 17 April 2007 declaring watermelon as the official state vegetable; with some controversy as the watermelon is a fruit.
According to tradition, watermelons or any kind of pumpkin kept more than ten days or after Christmas will become a vampire, rolling around on the ground and growling to pester the living. People have little fear of the vampire pumpkins and melons because of the creatures' lack of teeth. One of the main indications that a pumpkin or melon is about to undergo a vampiric transformation (or has just completed one) is said to be the appearance of a drop of blood on its skin.
The Citrulline which exists in watermelon (especially in the rind) is a known stimulator of nitric oxide, NO is thought to relax and expand blood vessels, much like the erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, and may even increase libido, however no one knows how much watermelon you would have to eat to see similar results to these drug products.