Toxic parts

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[1].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw. A very refreshing fruit[2][3][4][5][6], it has a delicate sweetness with an extremely high water content, the fruit is often used as a refreshing drink[6]. The unripe fruits are added to soups[6]. A syrup can also be made from the juice[6]. The fruit is a rich source of pectin[7][8], and can be added to pectin-low fruits when making jam[K]. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation[9]. The fruit varies considerably in size from cultivar to cultivar, but can be up to 1 metre long and 40cm wide[10]. A nutritional analysis is available[7].

Leaves - cooked. Seed - raw or cooked[11][12][13][6]. They can be roasted or ground into a powder and used with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc, or added to soups and stews[14][15][16]. The seed contains about 30% protein, 20 - 40% oil[17].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[11][15][6].



Unknown part

Material uses

The seed contains 20 - 40% oil. As well as being edible, it is also used for making soap and for lighting[13]. Face masks made from the fruit are used as a cosmetic on delicate skins[18].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The seed is demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic[19][7]. It is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages[19] and has been used to treat bed wetting[20]. The seed is also a good vermifuge[19] and has a hypotensive action[18]. A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms[8].

The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge[19] The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy and renal stones[18]. The fruit contains the substance lycopine (which is also found in the skins of tomatoes). This substance has been shown to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked[21]. The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes[7].

The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic[19].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow spring in a rich compost in a greenhouse. Either put 2-3 seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant, or prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on fast and, if trying them outside, plant out after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection, such as a cloche or a frame, at least until they are growing away vigorously.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Citrullus lanatus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a rich sandy loam and a very sunny position[2][13][10]. A drought resistant plant once established, it is intolerant of wet soils[13]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.3 to 8.

The water melon is frequently grown for its edible fruit in warm temperate and tropical areas, there are many named varieties[6]. It is not frost hardy and requires a long hot summer if it is to fruit well. It is not really a suitable crop for growing outdoors in Britain at the present time, though it is possible that new faster maturing cultivars will be developed. It is best grown in greenhouse conditions in Britain[K]. The cultivars 'Fordbrook hybrid', New Hampshire midget' and 'Sugar baby' mature in 80 - 85 days in Long Island, New York[10].

A good companion plant for potatoes[22].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Citrullus lanatus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Citrullus lanatus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Citrullus lanatus
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Watermelon-garden.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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  1. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (32202/01/01)
  2. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (32202/01/01)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (32202/01/01)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods. ()
  5. ? 5.05.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (32202/01/01)
  6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (32202/01/01)
  7. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (32202/01/01)
  8. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (32202/01/01)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (32202/01/01)
  10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (32202/01/01)
  11. ? Howes. F. N. Nuts. Faber (32202/01/01)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Organ. J. Gourds. Faber (32202/01/01)
  13. ? Rosengarten. jnr. F. The Book of Edible Nuts. Walker & Co. ISBN 0802707699 (32202/01/01)
  14. ? 14.014.1 RHS Lily Group. Lilies and Related Plants. ()
  15. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (32202/01/01)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Evans. R. L. Handbook of Cultivated Sedums. Science Reviews (32202/01/01)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (32202/01/01)
  18. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (32202/01/01)
  19. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (32202/01/01)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (32202/01/01)
  21. ? 21.021.1 Radio 4 AM - (32202/01/01)
  22. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (32202/01/01)

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