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Common Names: Cantaloupe (also cantelope, cantaloup, muskmelon (India and the United States), Mushmelon, Rockmelon, Sweet melon, Honeydew, Persian melon, or Spanspek (South Africa)) refers to a variety of Cucumis melo
Habitat: The cantaloupe originated in Iran, India and Africa; it was first cultivated in Iran some 5000 years ago and in Greece and Egypt some 4000 years ago.
The European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed (sutured), with a sweet and flavorful flesh and a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.
The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and in some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a net-like (or reticulated) skin covering. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-brown rind.[verification needed] Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common in the U.S. market.
Cucumis melo cantalupensis is an annual creaper, growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Cultivation: Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a warm, very sunny position. A frost-tender annual plant, the cantaloupe melon is widely cultivated in gardens and commercially, especially in warmer climates than Britain, for its edible fruit. Some varieties may succeed outdoors in Britain in hot summers but in general it is best to grow melons under protection in this country. Grows well with corn and sunflowers but dislikes potatoes. The weeds fat hen and sow thistle improve the growth and cropping of melons.
Propagation: Seed – sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks if you are trying them outdoors.
Fruit – raw. Said to be the finest-tasting of the melons, cantaloupes have a very watery flesh but with a delicate sweet flavour. They are very refreshing, especially in hot weather. Rich in vitamins B and C. The flesh of the fruit can be dried, ground into a powder and used with cereals when making bread, biscuits etc. The size of the fruit varies widely between cultivars but is up to 15cm long and 7cm wide, it can weight 1 kilo or more. Seed – raw. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat. The seed contains between 12.5 – 39.1% oil. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
The fruits can be used as a cooling light cleanser or moisturiser for the skin. They are also used as a first aid treatment for burns and abrasions. The flowers are expectorant and emetic. The fruit is stomachic. The seed is antitussive, digestive, febrifuge and vermifuge. When used as a vermifuge, the whole seed complete with the seed coat is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purge in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body. The root is diuretic and emetic.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.