Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Kiwano, African Horned Melon
Cucumis metuliferus 'African Horned'

Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cucumis (KOO-koo-mis) (Info)
Species: metuliferus
Cultivar: African Horned
Additional cultivar information: (aka Jelly Melon, Kiwano)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

29 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Vines and Climbers

Unknown - Tell us

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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6 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive 51kbos On Oct 27, 2014, 51kbos from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

I bought one of these from sprouts market in Scottsdale AZ and planted it late June, we had a very rainy season way above average, and this thing has grown up and over the wall, vining down the clothes line and has pretty much taken over, which I don't mind. I have yet to see any flowers however. There have been plenty if bees around but nothing for them to pollinate. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that plants grown from seeds of fruit bought at the store are unlikely to produce fruit, something about them being sterile or some such equivalent...does anyone know if there is any truth to that or what I can do to try and get my plant to flower if it's not true...?

Positive MTVineman On Aug 21, 2011, MTVineman from Helena, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Here's a great story for you. I bought a Kiwano melon at AJ's Market in Phoenix, Arizona while I was down visiting my brother. He had just moved into a new house and I was helping him plant new shrubs, trees and plants. We did all that and then I suddenly had a sneaky idea. I'm sure you can guess. I ate most of my Kiwano melon but I saved a number of seeds and just dropped them underneath a Passiflora vine I had just planted for him. He called me a few months later and asked me if I knew what this weird vine was that was taking over all of the other plants in that particular bed. Of course I did! My experiment had worked obviously. One of the seeds had germinated and was growing like a weed. That was months ago. I just went down to visit him and oh dear! I created a monster! The Kiwano is approx. 14 ft tall now and crawling all over everything else and up the trellis. It has reached the roof and is growing across the beams in the front courtyard too, now. It is huge! No blooms as of yet but it sure likes that desert climate and the 100 plus degree temps. It gets constant water from irrigation and now we are just waiting for it to bloom and fruit, which I pray it does. The neighbors are all asking what it is and now they all want one too! It makes great shade in the desert and is a very attractive vine. The trunk on this vine must be about 2 inches in diameter by now. It's like a tree. Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can get it to bloom and fruit? It's grown all the way up onto the roof as I said, but no flowers or fruit. Can't wait to hopefully see orange spiny melons hanging down from the beams in the courtyard!

Positive kentuckygardengirl On Jul 18, 2011, kentuckygardengirl from Blandville, KY wrote:

I'm going to give this plant a positive rating right now because the greenery is growing like gangbusters. It's a very active climber and seems to grow several inches overnight. However I haven't seen any flowers or fruits and it's mid July. I've never grown this before so I can't say if this is typical or not so we'll see. The leaves and vines look very healthy, bugs don't seem to bother them, vines are 10+ feet long in places.

I hope we get some fruits because this looks like a fun one to try.

Positive gerryd41 On Aug 27, 2009, gerryd41 from Beebe, AR (Zone 7b) wrote:

I tried this plant as a fluke as it was said to be hard to germinate. We germinated two seeds and in no time the plant vined all over a eight foot trellis and we have an abundance of this yellow odd shaped fruit. The taste is different but i like it.

Positive Atash On Jul 14, 2008, Atash from Seattle, WA wrote:

I can't grow this--it is too warm-growing for my climate (unless I had a greenhouse, which I don't).

But I do know how to eat them, which seems to have eluded many people. Contrary to popular opinion, they are actually quite good if you know how to prepare them.

You juice them and add sugar. Drink the juice. It's that easy.

It's odd that they taste somewhat bitter and cucumber-like naturally, but are absolutely delicious sweetened, but such is the case.

Positive Just_Grow_It On Oct 26, 2007, Just_Grow_It from Manassas, VA wrote:

A garden Annual just like cucumbers.

Good grower. Does not seem to need as much water as cucumbers. Doesn't seem to be effected by cucumber diseases. Will not cross pollinate with cucumbers.

VERY spiny, and the spines break off in your skin and are hard to remove. Gloves are a necessity.

Needs a long growing season if you want the fruit to ripen before frost kills the plant.

Neutral berrygirl On Feb 27, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Imported from New Zealand for specialty markets for over 25 years. Thorny, oval fruits are filled with greenish-gold gel and lots of seeds. The flavor is reminiscent of pomegranate and citrus. The primary market niche is for garnishes and decorative fruits. 120 days.

Neutral Farmerdill On Aug 19, 2004, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Large orange spiky fruit of subtle banana-lime flavour, long keeper. Said to have come to Australia with Boer War soldiers, also known as JELLY MELON.

Neutral Monocromatico On Apr 25, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a fast growing african vine, closely related to cucumbers. It grows a lot, and is said to require lots of water to do so. It has lots of small spines all over the stem, and even on the flowers, so protection is required to handle this one.

It has round, heart shaped leaves. Even the petiole has tiny spines. There are male and female flowers, both are small, pale yellow, and are hidden by the foliage. The fruits are weird. When ripen, they are orange coloured, of the size of a regular passion fruit, but covered with broad and short spines. When cut in a half, it reveals a thick peel, and lots of flat seeds covered in a juicy green coat. These seeds can be eaten, or the juice can be extracted and drank.

The look of that fruit is great, but I just tasted it, and it, in fact, just tastes like cucumber. Not a really remarkable flavour. But taking by the price, I suppose that there are people who are willing to spend all that money on those things, so it must be good, somehow...


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Queen Creek, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona (2 reports)
Beebe, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Saint Helena, California
Zephyrhills, Florida
Savannah, Georgia
Wickliffe, Kentucky
Lafayette, Louisiana
Pahrump, Nevada
Siler City, North Carolina
West End, North Carolina
Boise City, Oklahoma
Gold Hill, Oregon
Culleoka, Tennessee
Manassas, Virginia
Vancouver, Washington

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