Watermelon It is botanically known as the species Citrullus lanatus, although the original species received the denomination of Citrullus vulgaris. It is a plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, where we find vegetables as important as cucumber, zucchini or squash. This fleshy and juicy fruit of annual cultivation stands out for containing more than 90% of water and the record of the largest watermelon was a fruit that weighed 122 kilograms. Did you know that 95% of watermelons that are produced and consumed today are hybrids from species Citrullus maxima Y Citrullus Moschata? Discover this and many other curiosities in this article, where we talk extensively about what it is the origin and history of watermelon.You may also be interested in: Origin and history of the orange
Origin of the word watermelon
In Spain, the watermelon was introduced by the Arabs and to this we owe his name, since the term watermelon comes from the Hispanic Arabic word sandíyya, which at the same time comes from classical Arabic sindiyyah which comes from Sind, a region located in Pakistan that is the place from which this fruit came to the Arabs.
Where does the watermelon come from?
There are two main hypotheses about watermelon origin, one indicates that it is originally from the wild populations of AfricaOn the other hand, the second hypothesis places the origin of this fruit as a cucurbit species native to the Nile Valley, where it grew wild.
However, we can talk about a third hypothesis that would establish the origin and history of watermelon by combining the two hypotheses mentioned above. The explorer David Livingston placed the origin of the watermelon in the Kalahari desert in southern Africa, where this fruit grew wild. He discovered this fact on his first trip to northern South Africa.
However, although this fruit is native to the Kalahari desert, the first evidence of its cultivation is found in Egypt and dates back to 3,000 B.C. The cultivation of watermelon in this area was very fruitful due to the fertility offered by the banks of the Nile River, where the water was abundant and the weather warm. There is also evidence that the ancient Egyptians used watermelon to decorate their graves.
The primitive uses of watermelon
Did you know that watermelon was not always a fruit characterized by its pleasant sweet taste? Watermelons that grew wild in the Kalahari desert were smaller than those grown and a very bitter tasteTherefore, its consumption was not pleasant for the inhabitants of these regions.
But it is true that from its earliest origins this fruit was valued for its high water content. The reason that watermelon is so rich in water is due to its roots, because it has roots that grow shallowly towards the earth but are widely distributed horizontally. Because of this characteristic in its structure, watermelon very quickly absorbs rainwater and even water produced by dew.
Although the intake of it was not pleasant, it was always a very popular fruit since it was the main source of water for the inhabitants and animals of the regions, also using its shell for the transport of water.
The watermelon became sweetened by the selection and repeated crosses that were made among those cultivated species that in their later harvest proved to have better flavor.
While watermelon began to be grown in Africa subsequently it extended to Europe, the Middle East, India, China and America, becoming very popular and important in food throughout the Asian continent. It is considered that its expansion was in the ascending direction of the Nile River, reaching the Mediterranean Sea and being commercialized in Italy, Greece and Spain. The truth is that it spread throughout the African contain at the time of colonization and it was the colonizers who transported the fruits and seeds facilitating the expansion of watermelon to Europe, Asia and America.
The watermelon introduced in China in the tenth century acquiring a great popularity that is still preserved in the current times, as it is still customary to give a watermelon as present in social events.
The introduction of watermelon in Spain was carried out by the Arabs during the period of Muslim dominance in the Iberian Peninsula, between the eighth and fifteenth centuries. Despite the antiquity of the origin of watermelon in Spain, the species we consume today, hybrid of Citrullus maxima and Citrullus moschata species It was not introduced until 1980, where it began to grow in Almeria.
Watermelon reached the American continent with the conquest of the New World. Few watermelon records are available until the 16th century, but it is estimated that from this moment it began to reach widespread popularity. His first complete description in a book specialized in botany was given in 1916.
Did you know that currently more than 63 million tons of watermelons are produced every year? This production is carried out on all continents, however it is the asian continent the one who leads watermelon production, representing 80% of all annual production with an approximate figure of 52 tons of watermelons.
Within the European Union, Spain is the leading country in the production of watermelons and 20% of this production is destined for the export of fruit. Greece is in second place and Romania is third, according to data collected in 2013.
Now that we know the origin of the watermelon, we can observe how throughout its history and trajectory, this fruit was always very appreciated for its high water content, being the hydration the main use that was given when we still did not have species Sweet taste For this reason, its daily intake is recommended during the hottest seasons of the year, the season to which the watermelon harvest belongs.
We recommend that you discover in the following article the magnificent properties of watermelon for the organism.
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