Watermelon vs. Melon

Watermelon Crop Information

  • by Todd C. Wehner
    • Department of Horticultural Science
    • North Carolina State University
    • Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

How do watermelons differ from melons?

Both watermelon and melon are in the cucurbit family, the Cucurbitaceae. However, they are in different genera. Watermelon is Citrullus lanatus, and melon is Cucumis melo. Actually, cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and melon are more closely related than watermelon and melon. Melon is also known as muskmelon, but that term has been also used to describe a type of melon with netted rind.

Collecting watermelon (‘Astrahan’) and melon (‘Waharman’) germplasm in Turkmenistan in 2008. Notice that the melon fruit are larger than the watermelon fruit in this roadside market: image (JPEG).

Munger and Robinson define melon in their article: Munger, H.M. and R.W. Robinson. 1991. Nomenclature of Cucumis melo L. Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 14:43-44.

Robinson and Decker-Walters describe watermelon and melon in their book: Robinson, R.W. and D.S. Decker-Walters. 1997. Cucurbits. Science Publishers, Enfield, NH.