Is Watermelon A Fruit Or A Vegetable? It Depends Who You Ask

It's the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.

Unofficially speaking, the watermelon is everyone’s favorite summer fruit. Because it’s made up of over 90 percent water, it’s guaranteed to refresh on the hottest of days. We add it in our salads, blend it into our cocktails and eat it by the pound. But this beloved sweet, pink fruit has some identity confusion. Some folks refer to it as a vegetable and some are steadfast in its designation as a fruit. So, who’s right?

Watermelon growing on the vine.
tchara via Getty Images
Watermelon growing on the vine.

It all depends on who you ask. If you talk to a botanist, they’ll maintain that watermelon is a fruit because it develops from the plant’s ovary after flowering and holds the seeds. A vegetable is anything eaten from other parts of a plant, like spinach leaves or carrots (which are roots). But if you ask anyone in Oklahoma, they’ll tell you it’s a vegetable. The state even declared the watermelon its official vegetable in 2007.

How did they come to see the watermelon as a veggie?

The watermelon is a member of the cucumber family known as the Cucurbitaceae, which includes gourds as well. They’re grown like vegetable crop using vegetable production systems. And they are generally treated as a vegetable for culinary uses. So even if the watermelon is mostly eaten as a fruit, it got lumped in with vegetables in some circles of thought.

Dr. Lynn Brandenberger, a horticulturist at Oklahoma State University, believes that there can be some crossover when it comes to the classification of fruits and vegetables. It’s not clear cut; there is wiggle room.

“There is no black and white in biology. It’s all dingy gray,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

No matter how you classify the watermelon, here are a few other things you should know about this pink produce:

Yellow Crimson watermelon slices.
12875116 via Getty Images
Yellow Crimson watermelon slices.

Here are some recipes to help you do just that:

Tomato And Watermelon Salad
Steamy Kitchen
Get the Tomato and Watermelon Salad recipe from Steamy Kitchen
Layered Watermelon Coconut Shakes With Salty Lime Sugar
How Sweet It Is
Grilled Watermelon With Smoked Salt And Jalapeno Rings
Boulder Locavore
Ginger, Hibiscus And Minty Watermelon Popsicles
Half Baked Harvest
Watermelon Shandy
How Sweet It Is
Get the Watermelon Shandy recipe from How Sweet It Is
Watermelon Salad With Burrata And Yogurt Dressing
A Spicy Perspective
Fresh Watermelon Cake with Summer Berries
Half Baked Harvest
Boozy Watermelon Granitas With Coconut Whipped Cream
How Sweet It Is
Braised Pork Belly Tacos With Watermelon, Jicama & Jalapeño Salsa
James Ransom/Food52
Salted Watermelon Margarita Popsicles
How Sweet It Is
Strawberry And Watermelon Cake
Get the Strawberry and Watermelon Cake recipe from Trissalicious
Watermelon Paloma
James Ransom/Food52
Get the Watermelon Paloma recipe from Merrill Stubbs via Food52
Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salads
How Sweet It Is
Watermelon, Mint And Cider Vinegar Tonic
James Ransom/Food52
Get the Watermelon, Mint and Cider Vinegar Tonic recipe from Genius Recipes via Food52
Cool Watermelon Gazpacho
A Spicy Perspective
Get the Cool Watermelon Gazpacho recipe from A Spicy Perspective
Watermelon Ginger Sparklers
How Sweet It Is
Get the Watermelon Ginger Sparklers recipe from How Sweet It Is
Grilled Watermelon Salad
Verses from my Kitchen
Get the Grilled Watermelon Salad recipe from Verses from my Kitchen
Pink Watermelon Lemonade Slushies
Half Baked Harvest
Get the Pink Watermelon Lemonade Slushies recipe from Half Baked Harvest
Pea Shoot Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad
Boulder Locavore
Get the Pea Shoot Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad recipe from Boulder Locavore
Watermelon Agua Fresca
How Sweet It Is
Get the Watermelon Agua Fresca recipe from How Sweet It Is
Coconut Lime Watermelon Slushie
Minimalist Baker
Get the Coconut Lime Watermelon Slushie recipe from Minimalist Baker
Minty Watermelon Cucumber Margaritas
Half Baked Harvest
Get the Minty Watermelon Cucumber Margaritas recipe from Half Baked Harvest
Fresh Watermelon Jello
A Beautiful Mess
Get the Fresh Watermelon Jello recipe from A Beautiful Mess
Watermelon Mint Sorbet
Cookie And Kate
Get the Watermelon Mint Sorbet recipe from Cookie + Kate
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