National Watermelon Day on August 3rd recognizes the refreshing summertime treat enjoyed at picnics, braai’s and all round favourite snack! And since watermelon is 92% water, it is very satisfying in the summer heat.
This vine-like flowering plant originated from southern Africa. While the word watermelon refers to both the fruit and the plant to botanists, the plant is a pepo. The pepo is a berry with a thick rind and fleshy centre. Interestingly, pepos develop from an inferior ovary. They are also characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae, a scientific term for the gourd family.
While the watermelon fruit is loosely considered a type of melon, unlike other melons, it’s not in the genus Cucumis. The smooth exterior usually produces a dark green rind with stripes or yellow spots. Watermelons produce a juicy, sweet interior flesh ranging from deep red to pink. However, sometimes it comes in orange, yellow, or white.
While melon holds plentiful water, wild melons were bitter and tasteless. This clue suggests that desert dwellers likely cultivated the first melon. Additional evidence of the watermelon’s value is supplied in the seeds and art found in tombs of Pharaohs. Over time, cultivation and breeding brought out the better qualities of the sweet and tender fruit we enjoy today.
There are so many health benefits too, it contains only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds!
Here are a few benefits of the great watermelon:
- May improve heart health
- May lower inflammation and stress
- May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
- Keeps you hydrated
- Contains nutrients
- Great for skin and hair
- Improves digestion
With proper growing conditions, watermelons grow to enormous sizes. Around the world, competitions award prizes each year for the largest one.
We’ve listed some of our favourite watermelon recipes below for you to try!