Herb: Water Melon

Latin name: Citrullus lanatus

Synonyms: Citrullus vulgaris

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Water Melon:

The seed is demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic. It is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages and has been used to treat bed wetting. The seed is also a good vermifuge and has a hypotensive action. A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms. The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy and renal stones. The fruit contains the substance lycopine (which is also found in the skins of tomatoes). This substance has been shown to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked. The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes. The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

A weed of roadsides and open ground in desert areas.

Edible parts of Water Melon:

Fruit - raw. A very refreshing fruit, it has a delicate sweetness with an extremely high water content, the fruit is often used as a refreshing drink. The unripe fruits are added to soups. A syrup can also be made from the juice. The fruit is a rich source of pectin, and can be added to pectin-low fruits when making jam. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation. The fruit varies considerably in size from cultivar to cultivar, but can be up to 1 metre long and 40cm wide. A nutritional analysis is available. Leaves - cooked. Seed - raw or cooked. They can be roasted or ground into a powder and used with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc, or added to soups and stews. The seed contains about 30% protein, 20 - 40% oil. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed contains 20 - 40% oil. As well as being edible, it is also used for making soap and for lighting. Face masks made from the fruit are used as a cosmetic on delicate skins.

Propagation of Water Melon:

Seed - sow spring in a rich compost in a greenhouse. Either put 2-3 seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant, or prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on fast and, if trying them outside, plant out after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection, such as a cloche or a frame, at least until they are growing away vigorously.

Cultivation of the herb:

A weed of roadsides and open ground in desert areas.

Known hazards of Citrullus lanatus:

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.