horned cucumber

Horned melon

The horned melon, also called melano, African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd, English tomato, or kiwano, is the vine Cucumis metuliferus and is of African origin. It is grown for its fruit, which looks like an oval melon with horns. The fruit of this plant is edible, but it is used as often for decoration as for food. Though the horned melon is native to the Kalahari desert, it is now grown in California and New Zealand.

The dark-green pulp of this unique fruit has a delightfully refreshing flavour profile evocative of bananas, cucumbers, limes, and passionfruit. Its versatility in desserts is shown in its use as a topping for cheesecakes, flans, mousses, soufflés, sundaes, and pavlova. It can also be an ingredient in smoothies. More uses can be found in John Maloney's book "Cooking with Melons".

In Zimbabwe-Afrika this cucumber is called 'gaka' or 'gakachika' and it is primarily used as a fruit-snack, salad and rarely for decoration. It is eaten young, mature green or when ripe - bright yellow/orange(eaten at any stage of its development /life cycle.It grows naturally in the fields and also in the bushIwild). However, some people leave some to rot in the fields for next summer seeds/plants. It tastes like the English cucumber, but its more succulent and natural. Some eat the peeling as well. It has a replica that does not have horns, but looks and tastes similar.


A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.


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