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The Fruit of African Horned-Melon Explained

A fully ripe African Horned-Melon has an orange rind with prominent spikes, is bitter tasting and native to Africa.

Fruit of African Horned-Melon

The Fruit of African Horned-Melon Explained

African horned melon grows in semiarid regions of southern and central Africa of the Kalahari Desert mostly in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Nigeria. It was introduced to Australia 70 years ago and became a weed there.

Native to Africa, the African horned cucumber also known as the African horned melon fruit appearances when ripe with various shades of yellow and Princeton orange on the outside and electric lime green with a jelly like flesh and a bitter taste. 

The skin also sports porcupine like spikes over its surface making the fruit look like a prop on the set of a sci-fi movie. The ellipsoid fruit is bright yellow-reddish orange in color when mature and shaped like a short stout cucumber with many blunt thorns on its surface. These seeds are embedded in the middle layer, which is emerald green and consists of juicy, bland-tasting tissue.

African horned-melon is a specialty fruit for export to the European and US market. African horned melon fruit is a bit pricey in some areas of the world. The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini and is well worth the price. The fruits have a very long shelf life and may keep for several months.

Wild African horned melons have an overabundance of steroids making it extremely bitter. These steroid compounds are very toxic to mammals; however, as they are the bitterest substances known they are also feeding deterrents and very rarely eaten by mammals. The non-bitter commercial fruits do not contain steroid compounds and are not toxic.

Common Names for African Horned-Melons

Kiwano, Melano, African Horned Cucumber, Jelly Melon, Hedged Gourd, Horned Melon, English Tomato and Metulon.


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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My mother is a historian of African culture and history and her influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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Elegant but earthy The African Gourmet and Chic African Culture highlights African culture, food recipes, modern and ancient history.

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