Wild watermelons originated in southern Africa.
The watermelon can be classed as both a fruit and a vegetable.
It is a fruit because it grows from a seed, has a sweet refreshing flavor, and is loosely considered a type of melon (although it is actually a type of berry called a pepo).
It is a vegetable because it is a member of the same family as the cucumber, pumpkin and squash. It is also harvested and cleared from fields like other vine growing vegetables.
The watermelon is the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.
By weight, a watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water.
The high water and electrolyte content of watermelons make them ideal as a refreshing summer thrust quenchers. They keeps us hydrated, our skin fresh, and can clean the kidneys of toxins.
Nutritionally, watermelons contain high levels of vitamin B6 (which increases brain power), vitamin A (good for eye sight), potassium (which helps in curing heart disease and keeping the heart healthy). The watermelon also contains Vitamin B1, C and manganese which protect against infections.
China is easily the world's largest producer of watermelons with 69,139,643 tonnes produced in 2011 compared with just 3,864,489 tonnes from the second highest producer, Turkey.
All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, even the rind, which actually contains a number of nutrients too, but due to the unappealing flavor is rarely eaten. In China though, the rind is used as a vegetable and stir-fried, stewed or pickled.
There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon that come in various weights, shapes, sizes and red, orange, yellow or white in color.
Key commercial varieties of watermelon include the Carolina Cross, Yellow Crimson, Orangeglo, Moon & Stars, Cream of Saskatchewan, Melitopolski, and Densuke.
Farmers in Japan have started growing cube shaped watermelons by growing them in glass boxes where they assume the shape of the box. Originally this was done to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the novelty of the cubic watermelon can fetch double the price of a normal one at market.
As of 2013, the Guinness World Record for heaviest watermelon is for one grown by Lloyd Bright in Arkansas, USA. The watermelon weighed in at 121.93 kg (268.8 lb).