Watermelon ( Hindi: तरबूज | Telugu: పుచ్చకాయ |Urdu: تربوز ) 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.
From there, watermelons spread throughout countries along the Mediterranean Sea by way of merchant ships. By the 10th century, watermelon found its way to China, which is now the world’s number one producer of watermelons.The 13th century found watermelon spread through the rest of Europe via the Moors. Southern food historian, John Egerton, believes watermelon made its way to the United States with African slaves as he states in his book, “Southern Food.”
- The watermelon can be classed as both a fruit and a vegetable. It is a fruit because it grows from a seed, has a sweet refreshing flavor, and is loosely considered a type of melon (although it is actually a type of berry called a pepo).It is a vegetable because it is a member of the same family as the cucumber, pumpkin and squash. It is also harvested and cleared from fields like other vine growing vegetables.
- Watermelon’s official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae.
- By weight, a watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water.
- The high water and electrolyte content of watermelons make them ideal as a refreshing summer thrust quenchers. They keeps us hydrated, our skin fresh, quench inflammation and can clean the kidneys of toxins
- Nutritionally, watermelons contain high levels of vitamin B6 (which increases brain power), vitamin A (good for eye sight), potassium (which helps in curing heart disease and keeping the heart healthy). The watermelon also contains Vitamin B1, C and manganese which protect against infections.
- All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, the seeds and the rind. In some places the rind is used as a vegetable, stir fried, pickled, stewed and as a relish
- There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon that come in various weights, shapes, sizes and red, orange, yellow or white in color.
- Farmers in Japan have started growing cube shaped watermelons by growing them in glass boxes where they assume the shape of the box. Originally this was done to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the novelty of the cubic watermelon can fetch double the price of a normal one at market.
- As of 2013, the Guinness World Record for heaviest watermelon is for one grown by Lloyd Bright in Arkansas, USA. The watermelon weighed in at 121.93 kg (268.8 lb).
- Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
- Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings in Egypt to nourish them in the afterlife.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Cucurbitales
- Family: Curcurbitaceae.
- Genus: Citrullus
- Species: C. lanatus