13 Different Types of Melons (Plus Essential Facts)

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by Max - last update on February 3, 2020, 7:11 am
Types of melons

Melons are a type of fruit that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and grow on vines that sprawl across the ground or can be kept upright with support. These plants are not typically attractive in their own right but are widely cultivated for the delicious fruits they produce. They have been grown for over 4,000 years as an important food source in areas such as Egypt and Africa.

There are many varieties of melons, with varying tastes and appearances, though most are very fast-growing and easy to care for. Melon seeds sown in early spring will produce fruits that are ripe by the end of summer or early fall, with a quick turnaround that is appealing to children or anyone who likes to see fast results.

Melon plants need full sun and several months of warm temperatures, so they are well suited to hot climates but can also be grown in greenhouses in milder regions. All types of melon plants are intolerant of soggy soil, so they must be grown in well-draining soil, which is ideally rich and fertile. They enjoy consistent moisture, though some offer drought tolerance.

Some of the most popular varieties of melon are listed below.

13 Types of Melons

1. Watermelon - Citrullus lanatus

Watermelon - Citrullus lanatus

Mature Size: 1.5 feet tall, 15 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 8-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture needs

Soil: Fertile, well-draining

Watermelons are native to Africa, where the fruits have been cultivated for consumption for over 4,000 years. There are now in excess of 1,200 watermelon cultivars, which produce fruits varying in size from 6 pounds to 50 pounds. All of these types of watermelons have common features, including firm outer rinds and soft inner flesh which is dotted throughout with seeds.

Watermelons have an extremely high water content, somewhere in the region of 90%, and this is where their name comes from. The high water content makes for a refreshing snack in the summer, and because of its large size, it remains cool even after being removed from the refrigerator.

Watermelons are a very popular fruit and are widely cultivated around the world for consumers. China accounts for 70% of watermelon production, while Brazil, Turkey, and Iran are also key producers. In the United States, over 40 states are producing commercial watermelons, as they are able to be grown in a wide variety of climates as an annual plant, though they thrive in hotter climates.

Watermelons should be grown in well-draining soil as they are intolerant of soggy conditions. They grow on hairy vines which trail along the ground, producing hairy foliage and pale green flowers in July and August.

The plant itself is not particularly attractive and is considered a weed in some regions. However, it grows easily and is low-maintenance, making it an ideal addition to a fruit and vegetable garden. The watermelon takes longer than most other melons to reach maturity, with a growing period of around 90 days (Missouri Botanical Garden).


2. Cantaloupe - Cucumis melo var. Cantalupensis

Cantaloupe - Cucumis melo var. Cantalupensis

Mature Size: 1 foot tall, 4 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, loamy

There are two types of melon that are commonly referred to as ‘cantaloupe.’ These are the European Cantaloupe and the North American Cantaloupe. The European Cantaloupe was cultivated in the 1700s, in Cantalupo, Italy and is named after its birthplace. This cantaloupe usually has gray-green skin with white stripes. As the original cantaloupe, it is often regarded as the ‘true cantaloupe.’

The North American Cantaloupe is now grown in warm regions across Mexico, Canada, and the US. It has a netted skin and is the most widely produced cantaloupe in North America. Both types of cantaloupe have a sweet-tasting orange flesh, which is commonly consumed as a healthy breakfast, in a fruit salad, or as a dessert.

Cantaloupe vines produce yellow flowers in the summer and have foliage that can vary from dark green to variegated with cream.


3. Armenian Cucumber - Cucumis melo var. Flexuosus

Armenian Cucumber - Cucumis melo var. Flexuosus

Mature Size: Up to 9 feet long and 3 feet wide

Hardiness Zone: 7-9

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Rich, well-draining

This fruit is botanically a melon, though it tastes and looks similar to a cucumber. It was cultivated in the 1400s and grown in countries throughout western Asia, including Egypt and Armenia.

The fruits grow on an annual vine, which is frost tender. In warm climates, the vine produces yellow flowers which will bloom for much of the year, or during summer in colder climates. The vine also produces irregularly lobed foliage, which covers its stems.

The melons of this plant are long and slender, with pale green skin and white flesh. They can be eaten in their entirety and do not need peeling. They taste best when young, at a size of around 1 foot long. However, they will continue to grow up to 3 feet in length, but the flesh of the fruit dries out and becomes tough with maturity.


4. Galia Melon - Cucumis melo var. Reticulatus ‘Galia’

Galia Melon - Cucumis melo var. Reticulatus ‘Galia’

Mature Size: Up to 1 foot tall, 8 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 5-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture needs

Soil: Rich and well-draining

The Galia Melon was developed in Israel in the 1970s as a hybrid between a cantaloupe and honeydew melon. The resulting plant produces fruit that is typically round, with heavily netted rind and a sweet and spicy flavor. It is now cultivated in warm climates around the world, including South America, Europe, and the Southern US.

The fruit is considered ripe once the rind develops to yellow from green. It has a pale lime green, juicy flesh. Galia melons are easy to grow on vines that sprawl along the ground. They can be grown anywhere that has several months in a row of consistently warm weather.

To grow these melons, sow the seeds directly after the last frost. They need to be planted in a well-draining soil that is kept continually moist but not wet. Around a week before you are due to harvest the plant, reduce watering to a low level, as this will increase the fruit sweetness and prevent splitting.

The vine can be supported to grow upward or left to trail on the ground, but the melons must be kept off the floor to prevent them from rotting. You can do this by covering the ground with a layer of straw or sitting each melon on a tin can.

The Galia melon is just one cultivar among over 20 cultivars from the Reticulatus variety of Cucumis melo melons, which are also known as a group as ‘musk melons.’ Other cultivars include ‘Persian,’ ‘Hami,’ and ‘Jenny Lind.’


5. Canary Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Canary’

Canary Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Canary’

Mature Size: Up to 2 feet tall, and 10 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-12

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Canary melons are from the inodorous variety of musk melons, a group that also includes honeydews, crenshaws, and casabas. Canary melons, as implied by the name, have bright yellow skin and are often mistakenly called honeydew melons, though they are much tangier than true honeydews.

The flesh of this melon is pale green in color, with a soft texture when ripe. Canary melons are oval-shaped, and bigger when mature than cantaloupes. The vine of the plant can creep or trail, and it produces pretty yellow flowers in the spring.

The Canary melon plant takes around 80 days to bear fruit and is widely cultivated in Asia and South America. It is popular in fruit salads and as a breakfast food. Canary melons are commonly found in grocery stores around the world throughout the year, as they have a long shelf life and therefore transport well.


6. Winter Melon - Benincasa hispida

Winter Melon - Benincasa hispida

Mature Size: Up to 20 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture, somewhat drought tolerant

Soil: Well-draining

This melon gets its name from the fact that it has an exceptionally long shelf life, and although it is produced in the summer, it is still suitable for eating in the winter. Its longevity is down to its waxy skin, which helps to keep the inner flesh fresh. The waxy skin only develops once the fruit is ripe, with young winter melons having a hairy and fuzzy rind.

These melons have a dark green exterior and look similar to watermelons. Their flesh is pale and seeded. Fruits from the winter melon vine are known for being very big, often weighing in excess of 40 pounds. It also produces yellow flowers and large, broad foliage.

The fruit tends to be quite bland tasting and is frequently used as a vegetable in stir-frying and cooking. It is also candied in some countries, as well as pickled or preserved, giving rise to its other common name of ‘Chinese Pickling Melon.’

The young and tender leaves of this plant are also edible and are often steamed and eaten as a vegetable or added to soups and stews. This melon originates from Asia, where it is now widely cultivated (Plants for a Future).


7. Snap Melon - Cucumis melo momordica

Snap Melon - Cucumis melo momordica

Mature Size: Up to 5 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining

Native to Asia, this fruit is produced on an annual climbing vine. It is frost tender and therefore can only be grown outdoors in a frost-free climate or alternatively usually does well when grown in a pot and kept in a greenhouse through the winter.

The plant is self-fertile and is pollinated by insects, so if you want your snap melon vine to bear fruit, you will only need one vine. The fruit itself is oval with smooth skin and a sour-tasting flesh. The fruit is also used as an herbal medicine, providing relief for minor cuts and burns.


8. Honeydew Melon - Cucumis melo var. inodorus - H.Jacq.

Honeydew Melon - Cucumis melo var. inodorus - H.Jacq.

Mature Size: Up to 5 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining, moisture retentive

This melon grows on an annual vine, which is frost tender. It is widely cultivated both commercially and in home gardens for its mild-flavored, refreshing fruit. Honeydew melons have a smooth and waxy rind, which can be yellow or green.

The flesh is pale green and watery and can be eaten raw or dried. These melons usually ripen in late summer or early fall, following flowering in early to mid-summer months. Honeydews are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin B and are very low in calories. The seeds are also quite tasty and can be eaten raw or roasted.

The plant itself is very easy to grow as long as you have several months of warm weather in succession each year. It is a self-fertile plant, requires a full sun position, and consistently moist soil. It grows particularly well when paired with sunflowers and corn.


9. Santa Claus Melon - Cucumis melo var. inodorous ‘Sancho’

Santa Claus Melon - Cucumis melo var. inodorous ‘Sancho’

Mature Size: Up to 10 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining

Another melon from the Inodorus variety of melons, this cultivar is native to Spain and is also commonly known as the Christmas Melon. The fruit has a dark green outer rind with stripes, while the flesh is pale green-white.

The taste is comparable to that of the honeydew melon, being mild and sweet. This melon is widely cultivated in the US, Spain, and South America. In California, it is harvested at the end of summer, but the fruit is widely available all year round as it has a long shelf life of around 6 months, hence why it became known as the Christmas Melon, because it was said to last until Christmas.

These melons are also imported to the US and Europe from South America. Melons are mature a little over 100 days after planting and measure up to 12 inches long.


10. Casaba Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Golden Casaba’

Casaba Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Golden Casaba’

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining

The Casaba Melon is another melon hailing from the inodorous variety, which are commonly known as muskmelons. Although very closely related to the honeydew melon and cantaloupe melon, this type of melon does not have a sweet taste or obvious aroma. It is more comparable in terms of taste to a cucumber and Asian pear.

Casaba melons have a very unique look and can be instantly identified from their exterior. They have a round shape that comes to a defined point at one end, with a thick deeply ridged rind. The ridges run in stripes from end to end on a bright yellow skin that is sometimes flecked with green. The thick rind helps to protect the soft inner flesh and gives it a long shelf life. It is grouped along with other melons that have a long shelf life, which are known as ‘winter melons’. Although they are grown in the summer, they are called ‘winter melons’ because they are able to keep for several months and in days gone by were some of the only melons available for eating during the winter.

The flesh of the Casaba melon is a pale creamy green and is most commonly used in cold recipes and making beverages. Casaba melons are best when they are raw, added to smoothies, cold soups, and sorbets.

The Casaba melon originates from Kasaba in Turkey and was brought to the United States in the late 180’s. It requires a long hot summer to grow well, with at least 110 days of consistently warm weather. This is longer than many other varieties require, so it is best cultivated in reliably warm climates (Specialty Produce).


11. Honey Globe Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Honey Globe’

Honey Globe Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Honey Globe’

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining

This melon originally comes from Southeast Asia, where it is still widely cultivated. It has an exceptionally short harvesting period for a melon and is therefore quite difficult to come by and often has a large price tag attached.

As implied by the name, this melon is round in shape and is very sweet. It has around a 20% sugar content, making it one of the sweetest melons available. It has a very thick rind that can be entirely white or white with green markings. The flesh is white, very juicy, and has a soft texture.

These melons can weigh up to 10 pounds when mature, and unlike most melons which fall from the vine when ripe, these melons need to be cut from their vine for harvesting. This is due to a thick and sturdy stem that attaches the fruit to their vine. The plant from which the Honey Globe melon grows is suitable for cultivation in warm climates and produces golden orange flowers.


12. Gac Melon - Momordica cochinchinensis

Gac Melon - Momordica cochinchinensis

Mature Size: Up to 66 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining

The botanical name of Momordica cochinchinensis is a reference to the Cochinchina region of Vietnam where this melon was discovered. It is also native to many other places around the world, including parts of Australia, China, and other countries in Southeast Asia.

Gac melons are oval in shape, measuring approximately 5 inches long, with a spiked rind that is red or dark orange. The inner fruit is comprised of two parts, both of which are edible. The yellow part is the fruit, while the red part is the seed membrane. It is most typically used in cooking as it does not have a very interesting taste, and is therefore not usually eaten by itself. It lacks sweetness and is comparable in taste to an avocado. It can be used in recipes for curries, stews, and soups.

The plant of the Gac melon is a perennial vine. It is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are grown on separate vines, so in order for fruiting to occur, the flowers need to be cross pollinated. This means both female and male vines need to be planted in close proximity to each other to allow insects to effectively cross pollinate the plants.

The vines of the Gac melon are very quick growing and can reach great lengths in excess of 60 feet. The vine will produce flowers just two months after planting, which develop into the fruit. One vine will typically produce 40 to 60 Gac melons each season.


13. Crenshaw Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Crenshaw’

Crenshaw Melon - Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Crenshaw’

Mature Size: Up to 18 feet long

Hardiness Zone: 8-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium moisture

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

This melon is a hybrid variety that was produced by crossing a Persian melon with a Casaba melon. It grows well in several areas around the world, including North and South America, the Middle East, and countries in the Mediterranean region. To thrive, it needs full sun and a rich, well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist but not wet.

It is medium to large in size, typically measuring around 10 pounds when mature. It is oval shaped with a thick rind which is green-yellow with ridges running along its length. The inner flesh is tender, sweet, and juicy. It has a salmon pink-peach color, with a hefty sack of seeds running through its middle.

Despite the thick rind of this melon, it has a very short shelf life. Once removed from the vine, it is best if eaten within a week. As a sweet melon, the Crenshaw is most commonly eaten in fruit salads or as a dessert. It also works well on seared melon skewers or wrapped in cured hams for an appetizer. It can also be added to fruit smoothies or blended and frozen into a refreshing sorbet.

 
 
13 Different Types of Melons (Plus Essential Facts)

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