Watermelon is a scrambling and trailing vine in the flowering plant family Cucurbitaceae. The species originated in southern Africa, with evidence of its cultivation in Ancient Egypt. Take a look below for 27 more fun and interesting facts about watermelon.
1. Watermelon is grown in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide for its large edible fruit, which is a special kind of berry with a hard rind and no internal division.
2. The sweet, juicy flesh of the watermelon is usually deep red to pink, with many black seeds, although the seedless varieties have been cultivated.
3. Watermelon can be eaten raw or pickled and the rind is edible after cooking.
4. Considerable breeding effort has been put into disease-resistant varieties of watermelon.
5. In the 19th century, Alphonse de Candolle considered the watermelon to be indigenous to tropical Africa.
6. Evidence of watermelon cultivation in the Nile Valley has been found from the second millennium BC onward.
7. Watermelon seeds have been found at Twelfth Dynasty sites and in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
8. In the 7th century, watermelons were being cultivated in India, and by the 10th century had reached China, which is the current biggest watermelon producer.
9. The Moors introduced watermelon into Spain and there is evidence of it being cultivated in Cordoba in 961 and also in Seville in 1158.
10. European colonists and slaves from Africa introduced the watermelon to the New World. Spanish settlers were growing it in Florida in 1576, and it was being grown in Massachusetts by 1629.
11. Seedless watermelons were initially developed in 1939 by Japanese scientists who were able to create seedless triploid hybrids which remained rare initially because they did not have sufficient disease resistance.
12. Seedless watermelons became more popular in the 21st century, rising to nearly 85% of total watermelon sales in the United States in 2014.
13. Egyptians depicted watermelon in drawings on the walls of tombs and even left watermelon with their dead to nourish them as they journeyed through the underworld.
14. Because watermelons are native to Africa, they need hot, sunny conditions to thrive. Some varieties need up to 130 warm days to ripe.
15. According to Guinness World Records, the biggest watermelon ever grown was grown in Arkansas by Lloyd Bright and weighed 268.8 pounds. The record was set in 2005 at the Hope Arkansas Big Watermelon Contest.
16. Watermelons are made up of 92% water. In fact, some early explorers used to carry watermelons instead of canteens.
17. Over 300 types of watermelons are grown in the United States, however, only about 50 varieties are grown for grocery stores.
18. Watermelon sweetness can be measured by a Brix scale. Most watermelons are around 9 to 10 on the Brix scale. Very sweet watermelon measure 11 to 12 on the Brix scale.
19. We think of watermelon as a fruit because of its sweet flavor, but watermelon is actually a vegetable. It belongs to the cucurbit family, and is related to pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.
20. In Egypt and Africa, people often pair watermelon with salty feta cheese. The salt brings out the juice and flavor of the watermelon.
21. Watermelon only has 40 calories per cup, yet it has more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which can reduce inflammation and destroy free radicals.
22. The Japanese grow square watermelon by placing square glass boxes around a growing fruit so it becomes square as it grows. The Japanese like them because they’re small, don’t roll around and they fit neatly in a refrigerator.
23. Jason Schayot is an expert watermelon seed spitter. He holds the world record for watermelon seed spitting at 75 feet 2 inches, which he set in 1995.
24. Watermelon is the official vegetable of Oklahoma.
25. Americans eat more watermelon by weight than any other fruit.
26. Mark Twain loved watermelon and called it the food of angels.
27. In Southern Russia, watermelon are sometimes preserved by fermenting them together with sauerkraut, much like apples.