Economic Botany

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 276–284 | Cite as

Medieval History of the Duda’im Melon (Cucumis melo, Cucurbitaceae)



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.

Key Words

Crop evolution Cucumis melo Cultivar-group Duda’im Fragrance Melon Medieval history 



We gratefully acknowledge Abraham Lati of the University of Haifa and Diya Sa‘adi and Enas Zobadat of the A.R.O. at Newe Ya‘ar, and Dr. Yaron Serri of Zefat Academic College, Zefat, Israel, for assistance with translations from Arabic. We thank Nancy J. Ondra ( and Fran Sorin, Gardening Gone Wild ( for permission to use the photograph (Fig. 1). This research was supported in part by a grant from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust (New York).

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Vegetable Crops and Plant GeneticsAgricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya‘ar Research CenterRamat YishayIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Land of Israel Studies and ArchaeologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Land of Israel StudiesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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