Citron—Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf. var. citroides (Bailey) Mansf.1

James M. Stephens 2

Citron is often referred to as stock melon and preserving melon. It should not be confused with the citron of the citrus fruit family (Citrus medica) whose peel is candied and frequently used in fruitcakes. The citron melon belongs to the same species as watermelon, but the fruit is inedible in the raw state.

Figure 1. Citron melons
Figure 1.  Citron melons
Credit: James M. Stephens

Description

These fruits, which resemble icebox watermelons, are round to oval, up to 6 inches long, light green with darker green stripes, and have a smooth surface. The flesh is white and so tough that the fruits can be bounced on the floor with only a small chance of bursting. The seeds are not marbled as often as those of watermelons. The low vining plants, like the watermelon, have both male and female flowers and require bees for pollination. Because of the close relationship to watermelon, cross-pollination between the two occurs often. Gardeners should not be concerned with the effects of such crossing unless seeds of the melons are saved for planting.

Culture and Use

Volunteer citron plants are commonly found scattered around old fields, orange groves, and roadsides throughout Florida. Where desired, they should be grown in a manner similar to watermelons and cantaloupes. The flesh and rind are sometimes used for making preserves and pickles. Other reports indicate occasional use as hogfeed.

Footnotes

1. This document is HS585, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1994. Revised September 2015. Reviewed October 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department,; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #HS585

Date: 2018-10-28

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