Watermelon Plant Information
Watermelon grows in the following 34 states:Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
The bitter South African melon first collected by Thunberg has become naturalized in semiarid regions of several continents, and is designated as a "pest plant" in parts of Western Australia.Citrullus lanatus is a plant species in the family Cucurbitaceae, a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) flowering plant originally from West Africa. It is cultivated for its fruit. The subdivision of this species into two cultivars, watermelons (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) var. lanatus) and citron melons (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides (L. H. Bailey) Mansf.), originated with the erroneous synonymization of Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai and Citrullus vulgaris Schrad. by L.H.Bailey in 1930. Molecular data including sequences from the original collection of Thunberg and other relevant type material, show that the sweet watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris Schrad.) and the bitter wooly melon Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai are not closely related to each other. Since 1930, thousands of papers have misapplied the name Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai for the watermelon, and a proposal has therefore been submitted to conserve the name with this meaning.
Tswana: Lekatane (s), Makatane (pl)
Afrikaans: Karkoer, Bitterboela, Bitterwaatlemoen, Tsamma, Kolokwint, etc.
English: Tsamma melon, Wild watermelon, Colocynth, etc.
Zulu: Ibhece, etc.
Southern Sotho: Lehapu, etc.
The watermelon is an annual that has a prostrate or climbing habit. Stems are up to 3 m long and new growth has yellow or brown hairs. Leaves are 60 to 200mm long and 40 to 150mm wide. These usually have three lobes which are themselves lobed or doubly lobed. Plants have both male and female flowers on 40-mm-long hairy stalks. These are yellow, and greenish on the back.
This plant is listed on the Threatened Species Programme of the The South African National Biodiversity Institute.
The bitter wooly melon was formally described by Carl Peter Thunberg in 1794 and given the name Momordica lanata. It was reassigned to the genus Citrullus in 1916 by Japanese botanists Ninzo Matsumura and Takenoshin Nakai.
The sweet watermelon was formally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and given the name Cucurbita citrullus. It was reassigned to the genus Citrullus in 1836 by the German botanist Heinrich Adolf Schrader.
The bitter wooly melon is the sister species of Citrullus ecirrhosus Cogn. from South African arid regions, while the sweet watermelon is the sister species of mucosospermus (Fursa) Fursa from West Africa.
A number of cultivar groups have been identified:
(syn. C. lanatus subsp. lanatus var. citroides; C. lanatus var. citroides; C. vulgaris var. citroides)
DNA data reveal that C. lanatus var. citroides Bailey is the same as Thunberg's bitter wooly melon, C. lanatus and also the same as C. amarus Schrad. It is not a form of the sweet watermelon C. vulgaris and not closely related to that species.
The citron melon or makataan - a variety with sweet yellow flesh that is cultivated around the world for fodder, and the production of citron peel and pectin.
(syn. C. lanatus var. caffer)
C. caffer Schrad. is a synonym of C. amarus Schrad.
The variety known as tsamma is grown for its juicy white flesh. The variety was an important food source for travellers in the Kalahari Desert.
Another variety known as karkoer or bitterboela is unpalatable to humans, but the seeds may be eaten.
A small-fruited form with a bumpy skin has caused poisoning in sheep.
This is Linnaeus's sweet watermelon; it has been grown for human consumption for thousands of years.
This West African species is the closest wild relative of the watermelon. It is cultivated for cattle feed.
Additionally, other wild species have bitter fruit containing cucurbitacin.C. colocynthis (L.) Schrad. ex Eckl. & Zeyh., C. rehmii De Winter, and C. naudinianus (Sond.) Hook.f.
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