About Watermelon

Overview

Having spread from southern Africa to other parts of the world, the watermelon has become a common and appeasing treat for many cultures. The watermelon is the most common type of melon on the planet and comes either with or without seeds. The watermelon is enjoyed yearlong, though it is a particularly popular snack during the summer months or when temperatures outside are hot and humid. This is because the watermelon is not only sweet, but it hydrates and refreshes the body as well.

History of

It is believed that the watermelon is native of the Kalahari Desert region and was introduced into other parts of the world as people moved from place to place. In the 10th century AD, watermelon was being harvested in China. And, in the 13th century the fruit was introduced into Europe. By then it had been distributed through three major continents. In 1615 the word "watermelon" was introduced into the English dictionary, and the United States colonists were beginning to cultivate the product as well. Watermelons have been a popular fruit since then, but up until 1940 it was difficult to distribute because of the short shelf life, which meant that farmers had to sell the product locally. Today, watermelons are abundant and are sold in different varieties, sizes and portions all over the world.

Type

Watermelons are grown worldwide and have been exposed to various climates. The fruit has adapted to the climates over the course of thousands of years. As a result, there are over 1200 varieties of the fruit, ranging in size, shape and color. Many have slightly different tastes than the others. Some of the more common types of watermelon are the Melitopolski, Denuske, Orangeglo, Carolina Cross and Cream of Saskatchewan watermelons.

Size

Depending on the type of watermelon, sizes of the fruit vary with certain varieties of watermelon growing as small as 10 centimeters in diameter. This would be the average size of the Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon. The Melitopolski watermelon is only slightly larger, ranging from 11 to 12 inches in diameter. As watermelons grow in size, their range within a variety is so varied that the watermelon is defined by its weight. The largest watermelon and also the heaviest is the Carolina Cross variety, which has a record watermelon weighing 262 pounds.

Identification

The watermelon fruit consists of a smooth, tough rind that varies in color. Most commonly the rind is green and has different shades of the color blended throughout. One watermelon, the Denuske, from Japan actually has a solid black rind. The flesh of the fruit also varies in color, though it is traditionally red or pink. Some have yellow and even orange flesh, though. The rest of the watermelon is composed of vines, on which the fruit grows, and thick, bushy leaves.

Significance

Watermelons are a traditional fruit in Africa and grow in desert regions in the area. Because they are composed mostly of water, they are an important fruit that allows natives to the area to get the recommended amount needed, since water is scarce. In areas were food is scarce as well, watermelons are a cheap commodity that are a good source of vitamin C, which improves nutrition in impoverished areas. In the rest of the world, watermelon is a highly traded fruit that has created large markets in China, Japan, Vietnam, and southern areas in North America.

About this Author

In the summer of 2003, Mark Orwell began his career as a freelance writer focusing on popular culture, music, and film. He continues to write on a broad array of topics from Miami, Florida. His work has been available in the United States, the Caribbean, and South Africa.

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