Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Except for the watermelon, melons are fruits of Cucumis melo, a close relative of the cucumber (C. sativus) and a native of the semiarid subtropics of Asia. The melon plant was domesticated in central Asia or India and arrived in the Mediterranean at the beginning of the 1st century CE, where their large size and rapid growth made them a common symbol of fertility, abundance, and luxury. There are many melon varieties with distinctive rinds, flesh colors (orange types are an excellent source of beta-carotene), textures, aromas, sizes, and keeping qualities.