Feeling Horny? Well this fruit is for you!
The African horned melon (Cucumis metuliferus) is an annual vine, which looks like an oval melon with horned-like spikes. This strange fruit originates from Africa (funny about that), but really came from my front garden. They are about the size of an apple cucumber, and belongs to the cucumber and melon family.
I managed to buy the seeds from the Diggers Club catalogue, and planted the seeds in November last year. I had 3 seeds germinate out of about 10 I planted, and transplanted them when the first true leaves were showing. The vine grew to about 2 metres long, and I harvested these 7 fruit just from one vine today. According to Wikipedia the fruit is supposed to be bright yellow or orange when ripe, but can be eaten when mature green like these ones. They will ripen like bananas once picked.
This is what the vine looks like. Click picture to enlarge.
Bit of a rambling vine with small leaves, and quite drought tolerant. I watered them once a week during summer with grey water from the washing machine, and there are still about 10-12 more fruit on the other two vines. I want to see if the flavour changes when the vine dies over winter (if it does).
So what does it taste like? Well, I thought it tasted a bit like a just ripe banana crossed with a cucumber and a lemon. A different sort of taste, with it less sour than a passion fruit and the sweetness being very subtle. It was great as a snack and I ate it like a kiwi fruit with a teaspoon. My girls thought it was too sour, and thought it resembled snot and have hence titled it the green snot fruit. They are a funny lot! The seeds are covered with a gel like substance a bit like a pomegranate. They would probably be easy to juice.
The horns are spiky to touch and I picked them with gloves on. Not cactus like spikes, but enough to hurt you if you were not careful.
Someone else liked them as well. I accidentally dropped some of the seeds on the floor and Holly lapped them up and begged for more. Is nothing sacred?
The fruit is marketed as the Kiwano in Japan and the US, and grown in New Zealand and California and from what I can tell are about USD$10 each! It is eaten, but apparently are used mostly for decoration and I can see why. The fruit looks like it came from an alien planet.
Would I grow them again? In a heartbeat. They are so low maintenance and would probably climb a trellis even though I let them sprawl on the ground. They are an unusual fruit, but a good talking point in any organic food garden. If you can grow cucumbers then you can grow the African horned melon. I am going to try more crazy looking fruit again next year.
john (dad) says
they just look like the paddy melons that used to go on the dairy farm, just a bit bigger.
I have recently tried mine too, Gavin but I don’t think I would grow them again even though they are hardy. They are sooooo prickly and I didn’t think much of the flavour but if they sell somewhere for $10 each,I will try another one and maybe get used to it! I will save the seeds though and pass them on to anyone who would like them.
Hi Gavin! I was recently given some Kiwano seeds and wasn’t sure if I could grow them in Melbourne but Google told me you had success – I reckon if you can where you are then I should try them too! I was thinking about sowing earlier than November though, to get the most of the summer heat. Any tips?
Gavin Webber says
Hi Carolyn. It do have a good tip. Make sure you germinate them when it is warm. The soil has to be over 25C for them to sprout. After that, treat them like a cucumber and they will flourish.
Excellent, thanks Gavin! I might give them a head start undercover in a greenhouse, and see how they go! 🙂
I’m so glad I found your post. I have had this strange vine come up in my tomatoes and wondered what it was. Today my husband discovered the green fruit!! What an exciting surprise! Don’t know where they came from to self seed in my garden! Have lived here 19 years! Must have been a bird eating lasts years tomatoes that left me the present! Hopefully they ripen and we get to sample the fruit.
You can also eat them green, they taste more like a cucumber but a little sour
Lazy K says
I live in the mountains of New Mexico, USA. I tried growing these melons last year in the garden and they failed (I wasn’t surprised). This summer year I grew them in the greenhouse and 1 plant produced many fruits. Winter is coming and most are still green but I’m told I can pick them and they will ripen “like bananas”. I’ll definitely be saving some seeds and growing them next year!