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Citrullus lanatus - (Thunb.)Matsum.&Nakai.

Common Name Water Melon
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[65].
Habitats A weed of roadsides and open ground in desert areas[117].
Range Tropical and S. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Citrullus lanatus Water Melon

Citrullus lanatus Water Melon


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Citrullus lanatus is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 2 m (6ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to August. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.


C. vulgaris.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Oil;  Pectin.

Fruit - raw. A very refreshing fruit[1, 2, 22, 46, 183], it has a delicate sweetness with an extremely high water content, the fruit is often used as a refreshing drink[183]. The unripe fruits are added to soups[183]. A syrup can also be made from the juice[183]. The fruit is a rich source of pectin[218, 240], and can be added to pectin-low fruits when making jam[K]. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation[201]. The fruit varies considerably in size from cultivar to cultivar, but can be up to 1 metre long and 40cm wide[200]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Leaves - cooked. Seed - raw or cooked[63, 86, 117, 183]. They can be roasted or ground into a powder and used with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc, or added to soups and stews[163, 105, 83]. The seed contains about 30% protein, 20 - 40% oil[61]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[63, 105, 183, 266].

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Fruit (Dry weight)
  • 344 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 7.8g; Fat: 1.6g; Carbohydrate: 85.9g; Fibre: 6.3g; Ash: 4.7g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 125mg; Phosphorus: 141mg; Iron: 4.7mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 1351mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 4300mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.5mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.6mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiac;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Enuresis;  Febrifuge;  Pectoral;  Purgative;  Tonic;  

The seed is demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic[4, 218]. It is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages[4] and has been used to treat bed wetting[257]. The seed is also a good vermifuge[4] and has a hypotensive action[7]. A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms[240]. The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge[4] The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy and renal stones[7]. The fruit contains the substance lycopine (which is also found in the skins of tomatoes). This substance has been shown to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked[246]. The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes[218]. The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic[4].

Other Uses

Oil;  Oil;  Pectin.

The seed contains 20 - 40% oil. As well as being edible, it is also used for making soap and for lighting[117]. Face masks made from the fruit are used as a cosmetic on delicate skins[7].

Cultivation details

Prefers a rich sandy loam and a very sunny position[1, 117, 200]. A drought resistant plant once established, it is intolerant of wet soils[117]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.3 to 8. The water melon is frequently grown for its edible fruit in warm temperate and tropical areas, there are many named varieties[183]. It is not frost hardy and requires a long hot summer if it is to fruit well. It is not really a suitable crop for growing outdoors in Britain at the present time, though it is possible that new faster maturing cultivars will be developed. It is best grown in greenhouse conditions in Britain[K]. The cultivars 'Fordbrook hybrid', New Hampshire midget' and 'Sugar baby' mature in 80 - 85 days in Long Island, New York[200]. A good companion plant for potatoes[20].


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Seed - sow spring in a rich compost in a greenhouse. Either put 2-3 seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant, or prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on fast and, if trying them outside, plant out after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection, such as a cloche or a frame, at least until they are growing away vigorously.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References


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Readers comment

nirm   Tue Mar 1 04:49:07 2005

is there any CNS activity with this plant? was any work carried out in CNS?

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