Horned Melon

Horned Melon is an annual vine belonging to the melon and cucumber family. This species of plant is believed to be the ancestor of many other cultivated melons. Other names of these fruits include African Horned Cucumber or Melon, English Tomato, Hedged Gourd, Melano, Jelly Melon and Kiwano. This edible fruit is native to Africa, but is cultivated in many other countries.

Horned Melon Scientific Name

The scientific name for these plants is Cucumis metuliferus.

Horned Melon Description

These fruits have small sharp spines or horns all over their skin or shell. Due to this reason they are called the Horned Melons.

Size: These fruits grow up to the size of a large pear.

Weight: They weigh less than one pound.

Color: Unripe fruits are dark green in color growing bright yellow or orange when they ripen.

Flesh: The lime green jelly like flesh of these fruits is studded with numerous small seeds resembling that of cucumber.

Flavor: These melons have a sweet and tart banana-lime flavor

Taste: Their taste can be compared to a blend of zucchini and cucumber.

Horned Melon Picture
Picture 1 – Horned Melon

Horned Melon Distribution

These native African vines are currently grown in many other regions including Australia, New Zealand California and Chile.

Horned Melon Tree

The Kiwano Horned Melon grows as creeping vines with each vine being capable of producing up to 100 fruits. These annual plants grow in all types of soils during warm seasons. The tendrils of these fast growing plants need strong support for grabbing. The green stem and large leaves are covered in small hair.

African Horned Melon Cultivation

One can easily grow these plants in gardens to obtain these wonderful fruits. These annual plants need vary little amount of maintenance and can grow in many types of soils. It is better to start the seeds indoors in a pot during early spring. They should be moved in the garden once seedling start to develop and the outdoor temperature and weather conditions become ideal for their growth. These annual plants die once the first frost arrives, but the fruits stays attached to the vines and continues to ripen.

Growing Conditions

Soil: These plants can grow in almost any type of soil provided it is moist and well drained. They are also indifferent to the pH levels of the soil.

Sunlight: Full sunlight in required for their proper growth.

Temperature: The ideal temperature for the growth of these creeping vines should be around 59 °F (15 °C).

Fertilizers: Treating the soil with 4 inches of compost and applying 4 to 6 cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq ft is required.

Water: one should water these plants with 1-2 inches of water every week.


It is important to wear protective rubber gloves to avoid the sharp spines of these melons. The fruits are harvested when they are still green; however, they will continue to color for another two months until they turn a bright shade of orange or yellow.

Health Benefits of Kiwano Horned Melon

These melons are rich in various nutrients making them highly beneficial for health:

  • They are a good source for the vitamins A, B, C and E.
  • These fruits contain various types of minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and calcium.
  • These melons contain three times more iron than watermelons.
  • They also contain linoleic acid which is necessary for human health.
  • Their oleic acid content help in lowering blood pressure.

Photos of Horned Melon
Picture 2 – Horned Melon Photo

Horned Melon Nutrition Facts

Here is the nutritional value of one Horned Melon fruit:

Nutrient Amount
Carbohydrates 7.56 g
Fat 1.26 g
Protein 1.78 g
Water 88.97 g
Vitamin A equiv. 7 μg (1%)
beta-carotene 88 μg (1%)
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.025 mg (2%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.015 mg (1%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.565 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.183 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.063 mg (5%)
Folate (vit. B9) 3 μg (1%)
Vitamin C 5.3 mg (6%)
Calcium 13 mg (1%)
Iron 1.13 mg (9%)
Magnesium 40 mg (11%)
Manganese 0.039 mg (2%)
Phosphorus 37 mg (5%)
Potassium 123 mg (3%)
Sodium 2 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.48 mg (5%)

Horned Melon Uses

Ripe African Horned Cucumbers are used for many edible purposes with their delightful flavor and taste:

  • The green jelly-like flesh is scooped out from the spiny fruit shell and consumed along with a little sugar.
  • They are sometimes sliced and added to tropical fruit salads.
  • The pulp and seeds of these fruits are blended in a food processor for making a refreshing beverage.
  • This fruit pulp is also spooned over sorbets, ice creams and yoghurts to add a special flavor.
  • They can be used as a substitute for vinegar in salad dressings.
  • These fruits are also used for decorative purposes with their interesting appearance.

Horned Melon Recipes

These fruits are used for preparing numerous wonderful dishes including:

  • Minty Blowfish Kiwano Cocktail
  • Kiwano Melon with Chile de Arbol Raita
  • Grilled Beef with Horned Melon Sauce
  • Creamy Avocado and Horned Melon Dressing
  • Fiery Chicken Pita Sandwiches with Horned Melon Raita

Horned Melon Side Effects

There are no known side effects of consuming these fruits; however, it may cause some adverse effects in some people.

Horned Melon Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about these fruits:

  • It is one of the traditional food plants of Africa.
  • The Horned Melon looks more like a cucumber than a melon.
  • These melons are called “blowfish fruit” in the south east regions of United States as their appearance resembles the blowfishes.

Horned Melon Price and Availability

These fruits are easily available in fruit stores as well as online. The price for four Kiwano fruits ranges from $ 29 to $ 39.

Horned Melons are quite popular for their pleasant flavor and taste. However, some people avoid these fruits for their horned shell which makes it a little difficult to obtain the edible pulp and seeds. Although those who have already tasted these melons know that they are worth the hard work.

Horned Melon Pictures

Here are some images of these interesting looking fruits.

Pictures of Horned Melon
Picture 3 – Horned Melon Picture

Images of Horned Melon
Picture 4 – Horned Melon Image







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