Plant Name: Curcubitaceae Plant Family: Curcubitaceae Scientific Name: Cantaloupe: Cucurbita melo var. reticulatusCasaba, Crenshaw, Honeydew and Persian: Cucurbita melo
The fruit that we in America call cantaloupe, with its webbed or netted rinds, is actually a muskmelon. Cantaloupensis, the true cantaloupe, has a completely different appearance and is only grown in Europe. They have deep grooves, a hard warty rind, and orange or green flesh. These are grown only in Europe where the population easily recognizes the difference between muskmelons and cantaloupes.
No one is certain where melon cultivation began, but Egyptian hieroglyphics show that cantaloupes were cultivated in Egypt about 24 B.C. and biblical references speak of melons in the time of Moses (see Numbers 11:5).
It is believed that melons first "caught-on in the Mid East." Marco Polo discovered melons in use in Afghanistan and described dried melons as "an article of commerce (which) finds a ready sale through all the country around."
In the first century after Christ, Pliny the Elder, describes cantaloupes in use in Rome. By the second century, the Greeks were enjoying them and investigating their medicinal value. The Moors probably took them across Europe during their travels. Charlemagne discovered melons in Spain and took them home to France where he grew them in his gardens in 800 A.D., however, the crop was considered a novelty and its use did not spread.
After the collapse of the Roman empire, the Italians did not cultivate melons until about the 14th century.
Columbus introduced them to the New World in Haiti on his second voyage in 1493. The Indians of Central and South America were delighted to discover a new fruit and eagerly adopted cantaloupes into their cultivated gardens.
Cantaloupes mature in late spring and early summer and are netted with green and yellow rinds. Persian melons fit this category. Late summer maturing melons include casaba and crenshaw.
All melons are hot season crops and develop the best flavor during the hot seasons. All are very sensitive to frost.