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?
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:
- The whole thing can be eaten ― even the rind. Just pickle it and you’ll see what we mean.
- Watermelons aren’t always round or oval in shape. They’re sometimes grown in a box to form a cube shape. Heart-shaped watermelons are possible, too.
- Sometimes, watermelon is yellow, not pink. Known as Yellow Crimson, it’s just one of the 1,200 watermelon varieties that grow worldwide.
Here are some recipes to help you do just that: