National Watermelon Day recognizes the refreshing summertime treat enjoyed at picnics and fairs! Watermelon is 92% water, which is why it is so satisfying in the summer heat.
Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a particular kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp). Pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon -- although not in the genus Cucumis -- has a smooth exterior rind (usually green with dark green stripes or yellow spots) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually deep red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, or white).
The fruit was likely first cultivated for its ability to hold plentiful water in a desert landscape, especially since the wild melon was bitter or tasteless. Seeds and art found in tombs of Pharaohs furnish substantial evidence of the watermelon's value. Cultivation and breeding brought out the better qualities of sweet and tender fruit we enjoy today.
Watermelons can grow enormous, and you will find competitions across the country which award prizes each year for the largest one. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the heaviest watermelon weighed 262 pounds.