Watermelon

WatermelonWatermelon — Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai, family Cucurbitaceae) refers to both fruit and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa and one of the most common types of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green and yellow) and a juicy, sweet, usually red or yellow, but sometimes orange, interior flesh. The flesh consists of highly developed placental tissue within the fruit. The former name Citrullus vulgaris (vulgaris meaning “common” — Shosteck, 1974), is now a synonym of the accepted scientific name for watermelon, Citrullus lanatus.

Fresh watermelon may be eaten in a variety of ways and is also often used to flavor summer drinks and smoothies.

A one-cup serving of watermelon will provide around 48 Calories. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, with one serving containing 14.59 mg of vitamin C and 556.32 IU of vitamin A. Watermelon also provides significant amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin B1, as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium. Pink watermelon is also a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene. The amino acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analysed. Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kg an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma, this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorder.

Watermelon rinds are also edible, and sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed, or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum (and provides a great way to utilize the whole watermelon). Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.

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