Cucumis metuliferus, commonly called the African horned cucumber, horned melon, spiked melon, jelly melon, kiwano, or cuke-a-saurus is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae. Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name "horned melon". Ripe fruit has orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a refreshingly fruity taste, and a texture similar to a passionfruit or pomegranate. C. metuliferus is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is now grown in the United States, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand.
|Cucumis metuliferus fruit|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||183 kJ (44 kcal)|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA FoodData Central
Kiwano is a traditional food plant in Africa. Along with the Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus) and Tsamma (Citron melon) it is one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert. In northern Zimbabwe it is called gaka or gakachika, and is primarily used as a snack or salad, and rarely for decoration. It can be eaten at any stage of ripening, but when overripe, it will burst forcefully to release seeds.
The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of banana and passionfruit or a combination of banana, cucumber and lime. Upon tasting it for the first time on-air in 1987, David Letterman described it as "damned near inedible." A small amount of salt or sugar can increase the flavor but the seed content can make eating the fruit less convenient than many common fruits.
Seeding optimum germination temperatures are between 20° and 35 °C (68° to 95 °F). Germination is delayed at 12 °C (54 °F), and inhibited at temperatures lower than 12 °C or above 35 °C. Thus, it is recommended to sow in trays and transplant into the field at the two true leaf stage. The best time for transplanting into an open field is in the spring when soil and air temperatures rise to around 15 °C (59 °F).
Pests and diseasesEdit
It was found that kiwano is resistant to several root-knot nematodes, two accessions were found to be highly resistant to Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV-1), but very sensitive to the Squash mosaic virus (SqMV). Some accessions were found to succumb to Fusarium wilt. Resistance to Greenhouse whitefly was reported. Kiwano was reported to be resistant to powdery mildew; however, in Israel powdery mildew as well as the Squash mosaic virus (SqMV) attacked kiwano fields and measures had to be taken.
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