Everybody knows what watermelons are. Because they can be found in almost all countries. These juice fruits have a sweet and refreshing taste, which is especially desirable during the hot summer days.
Although watermelons are popular, you may not know a whole lot about them. We usually eat and forget them.
However, today, I am going to share 25 facts that hopefully give the informative taste of watermelons.
Watermelons were widely used for 5000 years.
Archeological excavations found watermelon seed in northeastern Africa, more specifically in Libya.
The age of those remnants is estimated to be 5000 years old.
Egyptologists also found remnants of watermelon from 4000-year old Egyptian tombs, which indicates watermelons were popularly consumed during that period as well.
Watermelon wasn’t always red and sweet.
Its wild ancestors had pale and green flesh and were too bitter to eat. However, thanks to selective breeding, watermelons evolved into one of the most desirable fruits.
You may ask: Why early human ancestors had grown wild watermelons if they were too bitter to eat?
Our ancestors did not use them as enjoyable food, but to extract water from its flesh.
In some countries, people grow them in a desert and store them in cool and shaded places for later consumption.
Tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs includes remnants of watermelon.
Watermelon was placed in the royal tombs for strategic reasons. Early Egyptians believed that a journey to the afterlife is long and exhausting.
For that reason, they included watermelons inside the tombs so the dead people could quench their thirst in that journey.
Watermelons spread from Northeastern Africa to the Mediterranean around 2000 years ago.
The first seeds may not have been brought to the Mediterranean area for the sake of trade.
Instead, historians believe that the first seeds got to the area with voyagers. They kept watermelons on their ships to ensure their water supplies during the long journeys.
Greeks and Romans believed in the medicinal properties of watermelons.
Especially, two Greek physicians, Hippocrates and Dioscorides, prescribed watermelon as a diuretic. It was also prescribed as a healing substance for heatstroke.
More specifically, a cloth soaked with watermelon juice was placed on the head of a child who suffered from heatstroke.
Roman naturalists Pliny and Elder also recorded the beneficial sides of watermelons. They believed watermelon is a cooling food that can prevent the human body from overheating.
Watermelon can be a good weight loss diet.
Watermelon helps you to stay hydrated as 92% of its total mass consists of water. Thus, it makes you feel full faster.
One cup of watermelon (154 grams or 5.4 oz) equal to only 46 calories. This means it holds fewer calories than low-sugar barriers.
Watermelon contains a chemical compound called Lycopene, which is healthy for humans.
Lycopene found in watermelon can reduce the risk of cancer.
A scientific study found that the Lycopene compound can lower the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) while Cucurbitacin E (another mineral found in watermelon) inhibits the growth of various tumors.
Watermelon lycopene also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases as it effectively lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Watermelons are warm-weather plants.
Their seed does not germinate well in cold soil. Therefore, it is important to plant watermelons after the last chance of frost.
Mid-spring is the ideal time. Before planting seeds, make sure that the temperature in the 4-inch (10.2 cm) depth of soil is about 60-65 F (15-18 Celsius).
If you are trying to get an early crop, you may plant the watermelons indoors first. And, when the outdoor temperature is warm enough, you may transplant them into your garden.
The distance between each plant should be somewhere between 6 to 8 feet (1.8-2.5 meters) as the watermelon plant needs wider areas to gain optimal growth.
Watermelons can both seeded and seedless.
Standard seeded varieties include: Royal Sweet, Sentinel, Crimson Sweet, Top Gun, and Sangria
Seedless varieties are Liberty, Majestic, Fascination, Obsession, 7197, and 7187.
Seedless watermelons are created in the lab.
Professor H. Kihara developed a system to produce seedless watermelons in 1951. He used the chromosome doubling method and increased the numbers of watermelon chromosomes from 11 to 22.
Later, Vic Watts, a professor from the University of Arkansas refined Kihara’s work in the late 1950s.
However, seedless watermelons got commercial attention only in the 1990s.
Currently, seedless watermelons gained huge popularity in the United States and it comprises about 92% of commercial watermelon sales today.
Not all watermelons are perfectly round or oval-shaped.
Misshaped watermelons also appear from time to time and their unusual shapes are caused by poor pollination.
Probably, you haven’t seen misshaped watermelons in your life. Because grocery stores usually sell perfectly round watermelons.
However, if you get into the watermelon field, you will spot some weirdly shaped watermelons. This problem happens when bees do not deposit enough pollen.
In some cases, to gain optimal growth, some commercial watermelon growers keep bee colonies at the site.
China is the leading watermelon producer.
China produces 79.2 million tons of watermelon annually. And most of their watermelon fields locate in Gansu province as the area has a favorable climate to grow watermelons.
Other top watermelon producers are Turkey (3.9 million tons) and Iran (2.8 million tons).
Watermelon makes you look younger.
Watermelon contains vitamins A and C, both of which are healthy for our skin and hair.
Vitamin A helps our skin to create and repair new cells. If your skin is dry and flaky, then you need to eat some watermelon to boost your Vitamin A intake.
Vitamin C is the most powerful skin health booster. When consumed in adequate amount, it makes our skin to create collagen and a protein which is very important for the skin to look healthy and our hair to stay strong.
Watermelon seeds are as healthy as watermelon flesh.
Watermelon seeds can be a perfect snack when consumed modestly. One cup of watermelon seeds contains about 140% of daily magnesium requirements.
Additionally, these seeds contain omega 6 fatty acids, copper, zinc, potassium, Omega 3, vitamins, and proteins.
You can either dry and roast the seeds or boils them in watermelon juice based on your preference.
Some watermelons cost thousands of dollars.
Japanese “Densuke” watermelon is in the first spot in the terms of value. People pay thousands of dollars to purchase one of those dark-colored watermelons.
For example, a single 17-lbs (7.7 kg) Densuke watermelon was sold for $6100 during one of the Japanese auctions, making it the most expensive watermelon ever sold in the world.
You may wonder what makes the Densuke so expensive. It is valued highly because of its appetizing outer appearance, outstanding crispy texture, and incomparable taste.
Coyotes also like watermelons.
Coyotes can cause damages to watermelon fields. Especially, during dry summer days, they cause more damage.
Reportedly, coyotes can eat about 20 watermelons in a single night. And, they are masters of choosing the ripest and tastiest watermelons from the field.
It takes about 70 to 90 days until watermelons become ready for harvest.
When watermelon seeds are placed in moist and warm soil, it takes about 4-10 days to germinate.
The harvest time depends on the variety of watermelons. Some variety becomes ready sooner than others and vice versa.
Three things are essential for optimal growth of watermelons: sandy and moist soil, adequate sunshine, and warm temperature.
Once a watermelon reaches softball size, cardboard or straw should be placed under the watermelon so it won’t have direct contact with soil and rot.
The heaviest watermelon ever weighed 350.5 lbs. (159 kg).
According to the Guinness World Records, the heaviest watermelon, as of 2020, was grown by Chris Kent in Sevierville, Tennessee.
The watermelon was weighed on October 3, 2013.
Chris always liked to grow watermelons and he received his prize during the Operation Pumpkin Festival.
Watermelon is sweet but only contains 6.2 grams of sugar per 2/3 cups (100gr).
This indicates that not all sweet things are sugary. Watermelon is a low-calorie fruit. By eating 100 grams of raw watermelon, you will gain only 30 calories.
Also, according to a source, a single serving of watermelon is low on carbs, and eating it will not have a major impact on blood sugar levels.
How to tell if a watermelon is ripe?
To pick a ripe watermelon, follow the instructions below:
- Give a lift. Watermelon should feel heavier for its size.
- When a watermelon rests on the ground for a long time, it develops a splotch. If the splotch is creamy yellow, the watermelon is more likely to be ripe.
- Thump it. A deep hollow sound is a good indication that the watermelon is ripe.
Watermelon is classified as both vegetable and fruit.
Watermelon has identity confusion. Because the plant falls into the characteristics of both categories.
Watermelon is a fruit because it develops from a plant ovary after flowering and it holds hard seeds.
Watermelon is a vegetable because it is planted using vegetable planting methods and they can be eaten from “other parts of a plant”.
Cucumbers and watermelons belong to the same family.
Both belong to the plant family called Cucurbitaceae.
Interestingly, cucumbers and watermelons require about the same requirements to grow. And both veggies are over 90% water.
Both of these plants can be grown in the same area as it does not impact the taste of each other.
Some people afraid that growing watermelons near cucumbers make the watermelon taste like cucumber because of cross-pollination.
That is a myth. However, if you are planting a seed taken from a watermelon that is grown near the cucumber, it may yield a crop that tastes like cucumber.
The scientific name of watermelons is Citrullus Lanatus
The name consists of Greek and Latin words. “Citrus” in Greek refers to the fruit, while “Lanatus” means wooly or hairy. Because stems and leaves of the plant have tiny hairs.
Some people think taxonomists made mistake when they named watermelon Citrullus Lanatus. It is because the Latin word “Lanatus” was originally applied to fuzz-covered citron melon.
August 3 is the National Watermelon Day in the United States.
Watermelons are considered one of the best delicacies in the United States.
Since Americans consume more watermelons than other nationalities, a special day is assigned for them.
Also, National Watermelon Day uplifts the true value of watermelons in American society.
There are over 1200 varieties of watermelons.
Each variety is categorized based on their size, seeds, and flesh color. The most common variety of watermelons has dark stripes, red flesh, and sweet flavor. However, not all watermelon flesh is in a red color.
There are also watermelons with yellow and white-colored flesh. For instance, Yellow Crimson watermelon has yellow flesh and it is considered sweeter than red ones.
There is also watermelon called Cream of Saskatchewan, which has sweet white-colored flesh and dark seeds.