Learn About Kiwano Jelly Melon History

By Mary H. Dyer | April 28, 2016
Image by Bryan Pollard
by Mary H. Dyer
April 28, 2016

Kiwano jelly melon is also known as horn melon, which is apparent when you take a look at this weird, oddly attractive, pear-sized fruit that sports greenish-yellow skin and spiny horn-like protuberances. Growing jelly melons is easy; if you can grow melons in your garden, you can definitely grow kiwano jelly melons.

Facts about Jelly Melon

Jelly melon belongs to the cucurbit family, which means it is cousin to cucumber, squash, and most types of melons. Although the outer skin is firm, the flesh is jelly-like with an abundance of edible seeds.

Some people say the flavor is tropical with hints of cucumber, banana, melon and lime, while others describe it as citrus and pomegranate– like. Many people appreciate jelly melon not for its flavor, but for its unusual, long-lasting ornamental value.

Kiwano Jelly Melon History

Unfortunately, kiwano jelly melon history is sketchy, at best. We do know that jelly melon, often known as African horned cucumber, is native to the semi-arid climates of central and southern Africa. It continues to provide important nutrients to the local population.

Word of this unique heirloom fruit is spreading, and jelly melon imported from New Zealand and Israel is becoming more common in specialty markets in the United States. The fruit is also becoming a viable food crop in California. However, growing jelly melon is highly time-intensive due to the spiny bumps, which can poke the skin of any fruit it touches – not to mention the hands of workers harvesting the fruit.

Growing Jelly Melons

Although jelly melons can be planted directly in the garden, you can get a jump start by planting seeds indoors two to four weeks before the last frost. Transplant the seedlings into the garden when temperatures are 68 to 95 F. (20-35 C.). Install a stake at planting time, as the rambunctious vines require support.

Keep the soil consistently moist, but never soggy. (A layer of mulch is a big help.) Provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week in a single watering, and then let the top of the soil dry before watering again.

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  • Curtis
    Comment added September 11, 2020Reply

    Just grew this year. We'll see if they ripen!

  • Bob
    Comment added October 16, 2019Reply

    This fruit looks like bacteria

  • Laura ~ Raise Your Garden
    Comment added April 29, 2016Reply

    I've seen these jelly melons in the grocery store but they are a bit expensive. But they are really nifty looking! Might have to splurge. I doubt they'd grow where I live, it's so dang cold!!

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