Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) is a species of melon that has been developed into many cultivated varieties. These include smooth-skinned varieties such as honeydew, Crenshaw, and casaba, and different netted cultivars (cantaloupe, Persian melon, and Santa Claus or Christmas melon). The large number of cultivars in this species approaches that found in wild cabbage, though morphological variation is not as extensive. It is a fruit of a type called pepo.
The origin of muskmelons is not known. Research has revealed that seeds and rootstocks were among the goods traded along the caravan routes of the Ancient World. Some botanists consider muskmelons native to the Levant and Egypt, while others place their origin in India or Central Asia. Still others support an African origin, and in modern times wild muskmelons can still be found in some African countries.
In addition to their consumption when fresh, melons are sometimes dried. Other varieties are cooked, or grown for their seeds, which are processed to produce melon oil. Still other varieties are grown only for their pleasant fragrance. The Japanese liqueur, Midori, is flavored with muskmelon.
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