Watermelon

From Academic Kids

Watermelon
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Vampire_watermelon.jpg
Watermelon


Watermelon fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Violales
Family:Cucurbitaceae
Genus:Citrullus
Species:C. lanatus
Binomial name
Citrullus lanatus

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus, Family Cucurbitaceae) is the fruit and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa. This flowering plant bears an accessory fruit of a type that botanists call a false berry. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the Genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind and a juicy, sweet, usually red interior flesh. The species descriptor Citrullus vulgaris is sometimes, synonymously, used to refer to this plant (vulgaris, meaning "common" - Shosteck, 1974).

Contents

History

David Livingstone, the African explorer, described watermelon as abundant in the Kalahari Desert, where it is believed to have originated. There, it grows wild and is known as the Tsamma melon. It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but the earliest watermelon harvest of record occurred in dynastic Egypt nearly 5,000 ago, and is depicted in hieroglyphs. The fruit was often placed in the tombs of pharaohs as sustenance in the afterlife. In fact, in Egyptian myth, watermelons originated from the semen of Set.

By the 10th century A.D., watermelon was being cultivated in China, which is today the world's single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; and, according to John Mariani's The Dictionary of Amerian Food & Drink, "watermelon" made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

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Watermelon.jpg
Watermelon

African slaves introduced the watermelon into the American South, where it has been farmed for centuries. Until the 1940s, however, watermelon was a rarity for shoppers outside the Deep South. Melon lovers had to grow their own, which tended not to keep for long, purchase them from local grocers supplied by truck farmers, or from roadside produce stands.

Then a USDA plant breeder set out to produce a better watermelon. The result was "that gray melon from Charleston," formally called the Charleston Gray. Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship. Its adaptability meant it could be grown over a wide geographical area. It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases: anthracnose and fusarium wilt. Today, farmers in approximately 44 states in the U.S. grow watermelon commercially, and almost all these varieties have some Charleston Gray in their lineage. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the nation's largest watermelon producers.

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Watermelon_seedless.jpg
small seedless watermelon

This now-common watermelon is large enough that groceries often sell half or quarter melons. There are also some smaller, spherical varieties of watermelon, both red- and yellow-fleshed. So-called "seedless" watermelons have far fewer, and softer, seeds than average, but generally contain at least a few pale seeds.

Culture

For commercial plantings, one beehive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination of conventional seeded varieties. Seedless hybrids have sterile pollen and pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted, and the pollinator density increased to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive).

Watermelon as symbolism

The watermelon slice is striking and unmistakable in appearance. In former times, African Americans were depicted in racist caricatures as being inordinately fond of watermelon. The image of the watermelon, allusions to eating watermelon, and so forth, still may be seen as offensive. However, the association of watermelon with black people, particularly in the American South, is not entirely spurious, given the plant's African origins.

Watermelon is also a term used to describe left-wing Greens, in that they are 'green on the outside, red on the inside'.

Art from the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead - 31 OctoberNovember 2) commonly depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or shown in close conjunction with the dead. This theme appears regularly on ceramics and in other art from the holiday.

Watermelon as food and drink

Fresh watermelon may be eaten in a variety of ways and is also often used to flavor summer drinks and smoothies.

The simplest way to cut a watermelon is to slice it crossways and then to slice the resulting round slabs into halves or quarters (pictured above). This method is generally used in a casual setting where people don't mind the juices flowing everywhere. Since the rind provides a handle, no utensils are needed.

If the watermelon is to be eaten in conjunction with a meal, it is generally cut into bite-sized squares or balled with a melon baller. The resulting pieces are often mixed with other melons and fruits and possibly a syrup to form a fruit salad.

Compared with most fruits, the watermelon has a very high water content, and can be used to satisfy thirst. Watermelons seeds are roasted by Asians. Pickling watermelons is widespread in Russia, and pickled watermelon rind is also popular in the West.

In the United States, one may also find a variant known as a hard watermelon, or a watermelon that has been enhanced with an alcoholic beverage. This process involves boring a hole into the watermelon, then pouring the drink inside and allowing the alcohol to mix with the inside of the fruit. The watermelon is then cut and served as normal.

See also

Template:Commons Template:Wiktionary

Reference

de:Wassermelone da:vandmelon es:Sanda fr:Pastque he:אבטיח ms:Tembikai nl:Watermeloen pl:Kawon pt:Melancia ja:スイカ zh:西瓜

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