melon, fruit of Cucumis melo, a plant of the family Curcurbitaceae (gourd family) native to Asia and now cultivated extensively in warm regions. There are many varieties, differing in taste, color, and skin texture—e.g., Persian, honeydew, casaba, muskmelon, and cantaloupe. The true cantaloupe (var. cantalupensis), introduced to Cantalupo, Italy, from Armenia, is a hard-shelled or rock melon. It is little grown outside the Mediterranean countries; the cantaloupes of the United States are varieties of the muskmelon. Melon is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Curcurbitaceae.

Any of the seven groups of Cucumis melo, a trailing vine grown for its edible, sweet, musky-scented fruit. Members of the horticulturally diverse gourd family, melons are frost-tender annuals native to central Asia but widely grown in many cultivated varieties in warm regions worldwide. They have soft, hairy, trailing stems, large round to lobed leaves, yellow flowers, and large flat seeds. The fruits of the numerous cultivated varieties differ greatly in size, shape, surface texture, flesh colour, flavour, and weight. Examples include cantaloupe, honeydew, and casaba. Plants resembling true melons include the watermelon, the Chinese watermelon, the melon tree (see papaya), and the melon shrub, or pear melon (Solanum muricatum).

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Melon is a term used for various members of the Cucurbitaceae family with fleshy fruit. Melon can refer to either the plant or the fruit, which is a false berry. Many different cultivars have been produced, particularly of muskmelons. The plant grows as a vine. This fruit is often mistakenly considered a vegetable, but recent research on biological origin and evolution, as well as historical usage has definitely set it as a -fruit-, even though it can be called a "culinary vegetable".

Culinary vegetables

Culinary fruit

Oilseed sources

See also


  • Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 706 pp. ISBN 0-521-34060-8.
  • Magness, J.R., G.M. Markle, C.C. Compton. 1971. Food and feed crops of the United States. Interregional Research Project IR-4, IR Bul. 1 (Bul. 828 New Jersey Agr. Expt. Sta.).


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