Melon Terminology 

Melon: A vining fruit of the Cucurbitaceae family with fleshy fruit. In this website I will only be describing sweet melons but there are some non-sweet types.

Days till harvest: The average time in days from germination when you see the first leaves (not the time from planting the seeds) till first fruit ripening. If started in punnets, it is the time from transplanting till ripening ( the time they have been growing in the punnet is not counted as transplant shock cancels that out).

Rind: The skin of the melon

Flesh: The edible, meaty part of the melon

Netting: The raised netting pattern found on ripe muskmelons, generally light tan in color, These are very intense on the familiar muskmelon.

Tendril: In botany, a tendril is a specialized stem, leaf or petiole with a threadlike shape that is used by climbing plants for support or attachment.

Suture: The grooves running from the flower end to the stem end on some melons. The usually coloured stripe that seperates the ribs on many melons. The suture often remains green when the rest of the skin changes colour.

Heirloom: A plant or animal variety that has been passed down in a family from generation to generation.

Open Pollinated: Seeds collected will come true and look like the parents.

F1: A first cross hybrid

F2: A second cross hybrid

Hybrid: A cross between two different varieties. A seed collected from a hybrid melon will not look the same as its parents.

Heritage: An old variety that has been grown for over 50 years ( some people consider heritage as a variety that has been around since WW2). Often referred to as a heirloom except that a heritage melon has not necessarily been passed down through one family.

Ribbing: The bulges on some melons that makes the fruit look divided into sections.

Vine: A growth habit of climbing stems or runners.

Slip: Slipping refers to when some melons fall from the vine without you pulling when ripe. Most netted melons slip at the peak of ripeness.

Kelek: Melons are also sometimes harvested while still small and green, when they have a cucumber-like flavor. Used mostly in pickles, they are known as kelek at this stage.









Melon Types:

  • RockmelonCucumis melo. Another name for a muskmelon (or canteloupe in some parts of the world). Netted melons.
  • Canteloupe: True canteloupes are from Europe and are sutured but not netted. Many people from other areas of the world use this name for netted muskmelons.
  • Watermelon: Cucumis Citrullus lanatus
  • Casaba:
  • Muskmelon: Another name for rockmelon (or canteloupes in some parts of the world).
  • Winter Melon:  commercial term for late maturing varieties, not to be confused with the "Winter Melon" seen (usually cut in large chunks) in most Asian markets, which is actually a gourd. Winter melons are usually good keepers.
  • Horned melon: Cucumic metuliferus. This is an unusual spiky melon from Africa and will not cross with other melons. 


Sweet Melon Species:

Sweet melons are in the same family as pumpkins, squash and cucumbers - Cucumis.

Cucumis melo


Variety groups.

All Melons (with the exception of Watermelons and horned melons) are of the same species, C. melo, so can be interbred to create new varieties. There are, however, several recognized C. melo varietal groups.

  • Cantalupensis group (now includes Reticulatus) have an often netted rind and aromatic flesh ranging from salmon to orange but sometimes green. These include the muskmelon (called Cantaloupe in the U.S.), true cantaloupes, Persian melons, and others. These melons slip their stems when ripe. Reticulatus designates the netted rind melons as distinct from true cantaloupes which are sutured but not netted.
  • Inodorous group: late-maturing melons called "winter melons" in U.S. agriculture, including crenshaws, casabas, honeydews, Juan Canary, Santa Claus. These melons have non-aromatic flesh usually green or white but sometimes orange. They do not slip their stems when ripe.
  • Flexuosus group: the snake melons, or snake cucumbers (not to be confused with the snake gourds).
  • Conomon group: Oriental pickling melons. Generally smooth, cylindrical, green, white or striped, with white flesh.
  • Dudaim group: mango melon, pomegranate melon, Queen Annes melon. These are small and round to oval, light green, yellow or striped with firm yellowish-white flesh. Not often seen in the USA.
  • Mormordica group: phoot and snap melons. The fruit is oval or cylindrical with smooth skin that cracks at maturity. Not usually seen in the USA.