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Melons-Squash-art - 3/6/17


"Melons and Squashes" by Mistress Agnes deLanvallei.


NOTE: See also the files: Cucumbers-Hst-art, gourds-msg, cucumbers-msg, P-Cowcumbers-art, veg-stuffed-msg, Watermelons-art, watermelons-msg.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Melons and Squashes

by Agnes deLanvallei


Melons and squashes are plants in the cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae.  This group is both Old and New World and the names have become quite confused.


Table 1. Cultivated species of Cucurbitaceae




Scientific   Name






balsam apple


Momordica dioica


India and Asia


Mostly wild [1] Pictured in [6] Italy 1517


balsam pear


Momordica charantia,  see melon, bitter






calabash (gourd)


see gourd, bottle








Cucumis melo


Africa [2]




[2], [4], [5]


chayote or christophine


Sechium edule


Mexico [4]    Central America [5]


1, 4, 5   Cultivated by Aztecs [1], [4]


citron or preserving melon


Citrullus lanatus var. citroides


Africa [2], [4]


small fruits, white flesh [2], [4]




Citrullus cococynthus


Africa [2]


Watermelon relative:  seeds in Egyptian   archaeological sites from 3800 BC; bitter, not cultivated. Also called bitter   gourd [2]




Cucumis sativus


South-central Asia [2], [5]


Written records of cucumbers from western Asia   1000 BC; grown in classical Greece & Rome; not to China until 2nd Century   AD [2], [4], [5]


cushow, green striped






S. Mexico [4]


[3], [4], [5]




Cucumis anguria


Africa [2], [5]


2,5  The name "West Indian gherkin"   is misleading: came from Africa with the slave trade [2]


gourd, bitter


Momordica charantia See bitter melon






gourd, bottle


Lagenaria sicerariac


Tropical Africa, Madagascar [1]


cultivated throughout world: "gourds"   [1]


Earliest cultivated records: central and South   America 7000 BC; Africa 2000 BC; China 1000 BC [1]


gourd, figleaf;


Cucurbita ficifolia


Peru [5]


Known from Peru 3000-4000 BC;long cultivated   Mexico to S America [5] also called Malabar gourd


gourd, Malabar


Cucurbita ficifolia


See figleaf gourd






gourd, wax


Benincasa hispida


Southern China [4]


Alternate names, winter melon, white gourd, white   pumpkin, hairy melon, fuzzy melon;  SE Asia before 600 AD1, [4]  A   tropical plant grown mainly in Asia; however, it travels well.




Luffa acutangula, L. cylindricad


Asia [4]


young fruit edible [1], [4], [5] Probably   domesticated in India but records lacking:  not reported in China until   AD 618-9001; Europe??


marrow, winter


Cucurbita maxima


S. America [4]






Cucumis melo


Africa [2], [4], [5]


Earliest cultivated reference: India 2000 BC; [2]   China 1000 BC2  Apparently not know in Egypt or Greece, came to Europe   at end of Roman Empire [5]


deCandolle in 1886 --a classic work on cultivated   plants --suggested 'sikua' of Theophrastus and 'pepon' of Dioscorides were   melons, but modern writers are doubtful [2] Very varied by 1517: see pictures   in  [6]


melon, bitter


Momordica charantia


Asia [1], [4], [5]


[1],[4]  Minor melon, not much known of   origins.  Picture in 7 (Italy 1517)  Also called balsam pear5,   bitter gourd


melon, egusi


Cucumeropsis edulis, Cucumeropsis manii


West Africa [5]


Cultivated in West Africa for oily seeds, which   are cooked [1] [5]


melon, honeydew


Cucumis melo




[2], [4], [5]


melon, pickling


Cucmis melo




described in China 1000-500 BC [2]


melon, winter


See gourd, wax








Cucumis melo




2,4,5 described in China 1000-500 BC [2]


















Cucurbita ficifolia,






Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita  pepo


Central and South America [3], [4], [5]


[3], [4], [5]




Trichosanthes cucumerina


Asia, Australia5


Cultivated in India, Far East5


squash, acorn


Cucurbita pepo,


Cucurbita ficifolia


West Indies, S. America4


[3], [4], [5]


squash, butternut


Cucurbita moschata


Mexico or South America4


[3], [4], [5]


squash, crookneck


Cucurbita pepo


Mexico, SE US [4]


[3], [4]


squash, hubbard






Mexico or South America [4]


[3], [4], [5]


squash, ornamental


Cucurbita pepo


Mexico, SE US [4]


[3], [4], [5]


squash, spaghetti


Cucurbita pepo


Mexico, SE US [4]


[3], [4], [5]


squash, summer


Cucurbita pepo


SE USA, Mexico [4]


[3], [4], [5]


squash, turban


Cucurbita argyrosperma


Mexico or S America [4]


[3], [4], [5]


squash, winter


Cucurbita argyrospermaa,


Cucurbita maxima


Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita  pepo


SE USA to South America [4]


[3], [4], [5]




Citrullus lanatus var.lanatusb


Central Africa [4]


Seeds in Egypt 2000 BC [2], [4], [5]


Mediterranean region from 1000 BC. [5] Watermelons   vary in size, shape (round to oblong to elliptical, color of rind (hues of   green, with or without stripes or spots), color of flesh (white to red to   yellow or orange) and color of seeds (white to reddish brown and black):   these variant forms were recorded by the European Middle Ages [2] See   pictures in [6]




Cucurbita pepo


Mexico [4]


[2], [4], [5]




a Cucurbita mixta is an outdated name of Cucurbita argyrosperma

b Citrullus vulgaris is an outdated scientific name for Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus, watermelon [5]

c Lagenaria vulgaris and L. leucantha are outdated scientific names for bottle gourd, L. siceraria1

d Luffa aegyptica is an outdated scientific name for luffa, L. cylindrica1


Earliest archaelogical finding  (domestication) of: Cucurbita argyrosperma 5000 BC Mexico [3]; Cucurbita ficifolia, Peru 1000 BC [3]; Cucurbita maxima:  Peru, 2000 BC [3] ;Cucurbita moschata 4900 BC, southern Mexico [3];  Cucurbita pepo, southern Mexico 8000 BC [3].




Squashes:  The common names of the squashes are all mixed up, but all are New World.  Many reached Europe very early in the 16th century:  see pictures in Festoons of Cupid and Psyche [6]


Gourds: Bottle gourd is Old World (and New World) and has many forms.  Some other gourds are clearly New World species.


Melons: All are Old World but while most are Cucumis (or Citrullus) there are bitter melons and other minor species pictured in 1517 (see 6 )


Pumpkins:  this group is very mixed up.  Most if not all modern pumpkins are New World.  The term "pompon" in French is pre-1492, however, and must refer to small melons of some sort.




[1] Bates, David M., Laura C. Merrick, and Richard W. Robertson. 1995.  Minor cucurbits.  Pp. 105-111 IN: J. Smartt and N. W. Simmonds.  Evolution of Crop Plants. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical, London.


[2] Bates, David M. and Richard W. Robertson. 1995.  Cucumbers, melons and water-melons.  Pp. 89-96 IN: J. Smartt and N. W. Simmonds.  Evolution of Crop Plants. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical, London.


[3] Merrick, Laura C. 1995.  Squashes, pumpkins and gourds.  Pp. 97-105 IN: J. Smartt and N. W. Simmonds.  Evolution of Crop Plants. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical, London.


[4] Simpson, Beryl B. and Molly C. Ogorzaly. 2001. Economic botany. Plants in our world. 3rd ed. McGraw Hill-Boston.


[5] Vaughan, J. G. and C. A. Geissler. 1997.  The new Oxford book of food plants. Oxford University Press, Oxford U.K.


[6] Whipkey,  Anna and Jules Janick  2005. The festoons of the Cupid and Psyche in the Loggia in the Villa Farnesina. An interactive database http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/udine/info.html">http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/udine/info.html


Copyright 2009 by Holly Howarth. <sablegreyhound at hotmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>


Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org