Watermelon's botanical name, Citrullus vulgaris, comes from the diminutive form of citrus, referring to the color and shape of the fruit, and vulgaris meaning common or ordinary fruit. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where its English common name, watermelon, comes from. The flesh of this succulent fruit is over 90 percent water.
Native to Africa, it was a valuable and portable source of water for desert situations and when natural water supplies were contaminated.
Watermelons were cultivated in Egypt and India as far back as 2500 B.C. as evidenced in ancient hieroglyphics.
The most common usage of watermelon is to chill the melon and slice or cut into cubes for a quick cold snack or dessert. A popular American line dance honors the watermelon called the Watermelon Crawl. In Italy, watermelon pudding is a popular dessert usually made of watermelon, almonds, chocolate, and cinnamon. Watermelon's refreshingly sweet flesh is also wonderful as an ice and in mixed fruit and melon cups. A Southern favorite in the USA is pickles made from the watermelon rind.
Watermelon is also an excellent choice for those with an artistic flair who enjoy making edible sculptures. The hollowed, carved rind makes a flattering basket for holding fruit salads and such. The Russians make a hearty beer from watermelon juice.