Medieval History of the Duda’im Melon (Cucumis melo, Cucurbitaceae)
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Medieval History of the Duda’im Melon (Cucumis melo, Cucurbitaceae). Melons, Cucumis melo, are a highly polymorphic species for fruit characteristics. The melons that are the most valued are the ones that turn sweet when ripe, including the muskmelons, cantaloupes, and casabas. Others, including the elongate adzhur, conomon, and snake melons, are consumed when immature, like cucumbers. The duda’im melons, Cucumis melo Duda’im Group, are special, as their small, spherical, thin-fleshed, insipid but beautifully maroon, dark-orange, or brown-and-yellow striped ripe fruits are valued for ornament and especially for their lush fragrance. The distinctive properties of duda’im melons are matched with special names given to them in several languages and geographical areas, which have made possible tracing of the history of these melons to mid-9th century Persia. From that region, duda’im melons diffused westward, likely facilitated by Islamic conquests, reaching North Africa and Andalusia in the 10th century.