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Origin, distribution, taxonomy, botanical description, genetics and crop improvement of watermelon {citrullus lanatus (thunb.) matsum and nakai}

Author: 
Swamy, K.R.M.
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Watermelon {Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai} is a flowering plant species of the Cucurbitaceae family and the name of its edible fruit. Watermelon is an ancient fruit. The ancestors of the watermelon called the Tsamma melon, which are still found in the Kalahari Desert even today. The sweet, juicy flesh is usually deep red to pink, with many black seeds, although seedless varieties exist. Common names in English areWatermelon, Wild watermelon, Sweet melon, Dessert watermelon. The common names in Indian languages areKumati palam (Tamil); Taramuj (Bengali); Tarabuucha (Gujarati); Kharbuza, Kharmuja, Tarabuuza, Tarbooz, Tarbuj, Tarbuz, Tarmuj ( Hindi); Tarabuuja (Marathi); Tarabuuja (Pujabi); Kallangdi Hannu (Kannada). It is an excellent source of vitamins C and A, as well as a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 and various minerals. The seeds are eaten as a snack or added to other dishes, and may be roasted and seasoned. They are a good source of fat and protein. The Greeks and Romans considered watermelon to have medicinal properties. Notable Greek physicians Hippocrates and Dioscorides praised its healing properties and used it as a diuretic as well as a treatment for children who suffered a heatstroke. According to the National Institute of Industrial Research, watermelon is cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. In India there is approximately 25 commercial varieties. Watermelon comes into season during the summer months, usually from April to June. However, unusual weather patterns during planting sometimes introduce the fruit to cities as early as March. In this review article, Introduction, Origin and Distribution, Taxonomy, Botanical Description, Genetics, Genetic Diversity, Crop Improvement, Uses, Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of watermelon are dicussed.

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