"Rockmelon" redirects here. For the band, see Rockmelons. For other uses, see Cantaloupe (disambiguation).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucumis
Species: C. melo
Subspecies: C. melo subsp. melo
Variety: C. melo var. cantalupo
Trinomial name
Cucumis melo var. cantalupo[1]
  • Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis Naudin
  • Cucumis melo var. reticulatus Naudin

Cantaloupe (also cantelope, cantaloup, muskmelon (India and the United States), mushmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, Persian melon, or spanspek (South Africa)) refers to a variety of the Cucumis melo species in the Cucurbitaceae family.

Cantaloupes range in weight from 0.5 to 5 kilograms (1 to 11 lb). Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted, orange-fleshed melons of Europe.[2] However, in more recent usage it has come to mean any orange-fleshed melon of C. melo, and has become the most popular melon in North America.[2]

Etymology and origin

The name is derived via French cantaloup from Italian Cantalupo, which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome, after the fruit's introduction there from Armenia.[3] It was first mentioned in English literature in 1739.[2]

The cantaloupe most likely originated in a region from Iran to India and Africa.[2] It was later introduced to Europe and, around 1890, became a commercial crop in the United States.[2]

European vs. North American

Macro photo of the skin of a North American cantaloupe

The European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed with a sweet and flavorful flesh and a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.[2]

The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a "net-like" (reticulated) skin covering.[2] It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-grey rind.[2] Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common in the US commercially.


In 2013, the world production of melons, including cantaloupes, was 29.4 million tonnes, with China accounting for 49% of the total (14.4 million tonnes).[4] Other significant countries growing cantaloupe in 2013 were Turkey, Iran, Egypt and India, which each grew 1 to 1.7 million tonnes.[4]

Because they are descended from tropical plants and tend to require warm temperatures throughout a relatively long growing period, cantaloupes grown in temperate climates are frequently started indoors for 14 days or longer before being transplanted outdoors.

Cantaloupes are often picked, and shipped, before fully ripening. One post-harvest practice is treatment with a sodium hypochlorite or bleach wash to prevent mold and Salmonella growth. This treatment, because it can mask the melon's musky aroma, can make it difficult for the purchaser to judge the relative quality of different cantaloupes.


Cantaloupes on a fruit stand

Cantaloupe is normally eaten as a fresh fruit, as a salad, or as a dessert with ice cream or custard. Melon pieces wrapped in prosciutto are a familiar antipasto.

Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, Salmonella[5]—it is recommended to wash and scrub a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. The fruit should be refrigerated after cutting it and consumed in less than three days to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.[6]

A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois market in 1943 was found to contain the highest yielding strain of mold for penicillin production, after a worldwide search.[7]


Cantaloupe, raw

Cantaloupe in cross-section
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 141 kJ (34 kcal)
8.16 g
Sugars 7.86 g
Dietary fiber 0.9 g
0.19 g
0.84 g
Vitamin A equiv.

169 μg

2020 μg
26 μg
Thiamine (B1)

0.041 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.019 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.734 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.105 mg

Vitamin B6

0.072 mg

Folate (B9)

21 μg


7.6 mg

Vitamin C

36.7 mg

Vitamin K

2.5 μg


9 mg


0.21 mg


12 mg


0.041 mg


15 mg


267 mg


16 mg


0.18 mg

Other constituents
Water 90.2 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Raw cantaloupe is 90% water, 8% carbohydrates, 0.8% protein and 0.3% fat, providing 140 kJ (34 kcal) and 2020 μg of the provitamin A orange carotenoid, beta-carotene per 100 grams. Fresh cantaloupe is an excellent source (20% or more of the Daily Value or DV) of vitamin C (44% DV) and vitamin A (21% DV), with other nutrients in negligible amounts (less than 10% DV) (see table).


  1. 1 2 "Taxon: Cucumis melo L. subsp. melo var. cantalupo Ser.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Area. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Marion Eugene Ensminger, Audrey H. Ensminger (1993). Cantaloupe in Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. CRC Press. pp. 329–331. ISBN 084938981X.
  3. "Cantaloupe". Oxford English Dictionary. 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Production/crops for melons, including cantaloupes". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT). 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  5. Munnoch, S. A.; Ward, K.; Sheridan, S.; Fitzsimmons, G. J.; Shadbolt, C. T.; Piispanen, J. P.; Wang, Q.; Ward, T. J.; Worgan, T. L. M.; Oxenford, C.; Musto, J. A.; McAnulty, J.; Durrheim, D. N. (2009). "A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul in Australia associated with cantaloupe consumption". Epidemiology and Infection. 137 (3): 367–74. doi:10.1017/S0950268808000861. PMID 18559128.
  6. "Kentucky: Cabinet for Health and Family Services - Salmonella2012". Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2012-08-18. In general, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing and scrubbing the rinds of all cantaloupes and melons prior to cutting and slicing, and to keep sliced melons refrigerated prior to eating.
  7. Mary Bellis, History of Penicillin - Alexander Fleming - John Sheehan - Andrew Moyer
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