Cucumis melo chito
Common Name: Orange Melon
Cucumis melo chito is an annual plant, able to climb with the help of tendrils, but more commonly sprawling along the ground.
The plant is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit from the warm temperate zone to tropical areas. Melons also provide an edible oil and have various traditional medicinal applications.
The orange melon occasionally escapes from cultivation and is naturalized in some tropical and sub-tropical areas.
It takes 3 - 4 months to produce a crop from seed[
The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[
Probably native of Asia, though it has been in cultivation for so long its native habitat is obscure
Derived through cultivation, it is not known in a truly wild location though it sometimes escapes from cultivation and becomes naturalized in fields and waste places.
The Orange Melon can be cultivated from the warm temperate zone through to the tropics, where it can be grown at elevations up to 1,000 metres. They grow best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 30°c, but can tolerate 9 - 35°c[
]. They are killed by frost[
]. They prefer a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,300mm, but tolerate 900 - 2,500mm[
]. They grow best in areas without too much rainfall or too high a humidity, since these conditions reduce fertilization and lead to diseases of the leaves[
Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a warm, very sunny position[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 8.7[
Individual plants are usually allowed to bear about four melons, and a crop of melons should yield about 5 - 30 tonnes/ha, with an average about 11 - 13 tonnes/ha[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. About the size of an orange, it is yellow or greeny-yellow when ripe with a thin leathery skin. Whilst it can be peeled and eaten raw, it is more often made into pies, preserves, marmalades etc[
]. Unripe fruits are sometimes pickled whole[
Seed - raw[
]. Rich in oil with a nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat[
]. The seed contains between 12.5 - 39.1% oil[
An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
The fruits can be used as a cooling light cleanser or moisturiser for the skin[
]. They are also used as a first aid treatment for burns and abrasions[
The flowers are expectorant and emetic[
The fruit is stomachic[
The seed is antitussive, digestive, febrifuge and vermifuge[
]. When used as a vermifuge, the whole seed complete with the seed coat is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purge in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body[
The root is diuretic and emetic[
Grows well with corn and sunflowers but dislikes potatoes[
]. The weeds fat hen and sow thistle improve the growth and cropping of melons[
Seed - sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks if you are trying them outdoors.