Horned Melon

Cucumis metuliferus

The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile

Common names 
Also known as: horned cucumber, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, African horned melon, hedged gourd , melano,
Flowering time 
January to May
Semiarid regions of southern and central Africa
State declaration 
Council declaration 
NIL - Reduce
Known distribution 

Cucumis metuliferus occurs naturally throughout the tropical and subtropical sub-Saharan regions of Africa, from Senegal to Somalia and South Africa. It has also been recorded in Yemen. In Kenya, New Zealand, France and Israel the fruits of improved cultivars are commercially grown for export. Cucumis metuliferus has become naturalized in Australia, and is reported as adventive in Croatia.


This species usually grows in shallow or deep, well-drained sand, mostly in alluvial soil on river banks, in river beds or flood plains; it is also recorded from clay or loam soil and rocky slopes. It climbs on trees, shrubs or grass in various vegetation types such as forest edges (often riverine), semi-evergreen forest, deciduous woodland (often with Acacia), savanna or grassland. The jelly melon also grows in disturbed areas and abandoned land.


Vigorous annual herb with climbing or prostrate stems, having solitary, simple tendrils 4–10.5 cm long; root system strong, fibrous; stems reaching several m in length, grooved, with long stiff spreading hairs.

Impact and control methods 

Vegetative stem growth, either climbing or sprawling, exhibits typical cucurbit exuberance and the plants are capable of smothering nearby plant growth.

Stem and leaves 

Annual prostrate or climbing herb. Stems up to 5 m long radiating from a woody rootstock, covered in bristly hairs. Leaves broadly ovate or subpentagonal in outline,up to 90 x 100 mm, more or less shallowly (3-)5-lobed, more or less densely bristly hairy, particularly on the veins below; margins minutely toothed; leaf stalks (petioles) up to 100 mm long

Flowers and fruits 

Flowers unisexual, both sexes on the same plant, Male flowers are solitary or up to 4 in sessile or short-stalked groups, greenish to light yellow, the corolla is 5-10 mm long. Female flowers are solitary on 20-60 mm long stalks; the ovary is up to 20 mm long, pale green with numerous minute, dark green fleshy spines, the corolla is yellow, 8-15 mm long.


The fruit is ellipsoid-cylindrical, obscurely trigonous (triangular in shape), 60-150 mm long, 30-60 mm across when ripe, the scattered spines are rather stout, fleshy, ± 10 x 2-5 mm, broad-based, deep green-grey, ripening yellow to orange-red with obscure longitudinal stripes of small pale markings and rather softly fleshy. Seeds are ellipsoid, flattened, 6-9 mm long, numerous, embedded in a light green or emerald-green, jelly-like flesh.

Reproduction and dispersal 

Reproduced by seed