Melon, the common name for fruits of vines of the cucurlitacem or gourd family. In England, where but one kind is cultivated, the name melon applies solely to the fruit of cu-cumis melo; but in this country we have also the fruit of a very distinct plant, citrullus vulgaris, and the distinction is made of musk-melon for the one and watermelon for the other. The same uncertainty surrounds the origin of the muskmelon that attaches to many of our cultivated plants; it is quite doubtful whether it has ever been found in a truly wild state, but it is supposed to have originated in India, and to have been brought thence by way of Persia. As with other cultivated plants of the family, the tendency to vary is great, and the forms or varieties in cultivation are numerous. The plant is a running vine, extending from 4 to 8 ft. or more, bearing large generally heart-shaped and angled leaves"' rough on both sides; the tendrils are simple; the flowers monoecious, the sterile in small clusters and the pistillate ones solitary in the axils of the leaves; the fruit, which is variable in size, has a thick and fleshy pericarp, usually ribbed exteriorly; when ripe, the watery and stringy placentas only partly fill the cavity, and are rejected with the seeds when the fruit is eaten.

The melon reaches its greatest perfection in warm climates, but so readily does it adapt itself to cultivation that several varieties come to maturity in the short summers of New England. In England melons cannot be raised with any certainty except under glass, but in this country they are almost entirely cultivated in the open air. The soil can hardly be made too rich, and it is the custom to sow the seeds in hills which have been especially prepared with an abundance of well decomposed manure. As the young plants are attacked by various insects, a great abundance of seed is sown, and when they are large enough to run, all the plants but two or three are removed from the hills, which are made 6 or 8 ft. apart each way. In field culture no other care is given than to protect the young plants from insects by dusting with lime or ashes, but in gardens the vines are sometimes pinched at the ends to induce branching, and the fruit is turned to insure its ripening evenly; when thoroughly ripe the stem separates from its attachment to the fruit by a well defined line, and a practised eye can judge by this alone of the maturity of the fruit.

Great numbers of melons are shipped from southern ports to northern cities; these are picked before they are fully mature, and come into condition for eating by the time they reach the consumer. The varieties, if grown near one another, are very difficult to keep pure, and it is the custom with those who raise melons for market to have but one variety, and to take great care in the selection of plants for seed; and each grower generally has his own particular " strain." In size the varieties range from the pocket melon, no larger than an orange, to the large Persian kinds weighing 12 or 15 lbs.; in form they are globular, oblate, or oval. In no respect is the difference greater than in the quality of the flesh; the common muskmelon, still found in some country gardens, with its name corrupted not inappropriately into mushmelon, with its dry, mealy, and nearly tasteless fruit, is so inferior to the rich, melting improved varieties, that one can hardly believe them to have had the same origin. Melons from seed brought from Armenia by missionaries were cultivated over three centuries ago at Canteluppi, a villa near Rome, and thence introduced to other parts of Europe as canteloupes; the name is still in use in some parts of Europe for a class of depressed-spherical, deeply ribbed, yellow-fleshed varieties, but in this country it is of very indefinite application, and has almost entirely passed out of use.

The surface in some varieties is quite smooth, but generally it is roughened with corky protuberances in the form of a network, and the abundance of this netting is in many sorts a mark of purity. It is very difficult to make a classification of the varieties other than by the color of their flesh, which in some is green and in others orange or scarlet. The green-fleshed varieties are the most highly esteemed, and among these the most generally cultivated is the green citron, which is somewhat flattened at the ends, 6 in. or more in diameter, deeply and regularly ribbed; skin green, turning yellowish, and thickly netted; the flesh green, thick, and juicy, and of a highly sugary and rich flavor. This in some of its forms is the great market melon, of which immense quantities are sent from the south early in the season, and later from the market gardens near cities; by selection it has been increased in size, and specimens a foot or more in diameter are sometimes seen. The nutmeg is a slightly oval variety, and when pure is highly perfumed and one of the best. Related varieties are the Christiana, valued chiefly for its easiness, Skillman'sfine netted, and Ward's nectar, all of which are better suited for private gardens than for market.

A comparatively recent introduction is the white Japan, a small fruit with a cream-white skin, smooth or slightly netted, and an unusually thick flesh in proportion to its size, and excellent in quality. The large netted muskmelon is very productive and sweet, but inferior to those already named. There are several varieties known as Persian melons, which have a remarkably thin rind and extremely tender thick flesh; these require a longer season than the ordinary kinds, and are not so well adapted to northern localities; one of the most successful of these is the Cassaba, which is a great favorite near Philadelphia and southward; the Ispahan is regarded as the finest of all, and the most difficult to cultivate. Some of the Persian melons can be preserved for a long time after they are removed from the vines by suspending them in a warm room; the dumpsha is of this class, and is much cultivated in the south of Europe. The varieties so much cultivated in England under glass are little known in this country.

The melon is a most popular fruit, but does not agree with delicate stomachs; and it is the custom with many to eat it with the addition of salt and pepper to render it more digestible. - The watermelon (citndlits vulgaris) is of Asiatic, or as some say of African origin, and is believed to be the melon referred to in Numbers xi. 5. It is largely cultivated in all warm countries, and presents almost as many varieties as the muskmelon. The vine is a rampant runner, extending from 10 to 18 ft.; the leaves arc deeply three- to five-lobed, with the divisions themselves lobed, and of a bluish green; the tendrils are two- or three-forked; both kinds of flowers are solitary in the axils of the leaves, and pale yellow; fruit with a smooth rind, roundish or oblong, of a uniform green or variegated with several shades of that color; in ripening the placentas in which the seeds are imbedded, as well as the pericarp proper, become fleshy and edible; the seeds are white, brown, or black. The cultivation of the watermelon is essentially the same as that of the muskmelon, except that the hills are made further apart; the young plants are less liable to the attacks of insects than those of the ordinary melon.

The variety first seen in the northern markets is the Carolina or mountain sprout, of which large quantities are brought each season from the southern states; it is large, elongated, and often enlarged toward the blossom end; the skin is dark green, variegated with longitudinal mottled stripes of lighter color or white; the red flesh is of fair quality, and the seeds are black. One of the best varieties is the ice-cream, which when pure is nearly round, pale green, with white flesh and seeds; this is one of the earliest varieties and best suited to northern localities. The black Spanish is one of the sweetest of all, and has a flesh of the darkest red; it is somewhat oblong, slightly ribbed, with a skin of dark blackish green. Joe Johnston and Souter are popular southern varieties. The orange watermelon is remarkable for its keeping qualities, as well as for the readiness with which the flesh parts from the rind. The apple-seeded, so called from the size, shape, and color of its seeds, is another long-keeping kind. New varieties are added to the list each year, and old ones are dropped. The seeds of the watermelon have been used, together with those of the cucumber and other cucurhitacew, in the form of an emulsion, for diseases of the urinary organs.

A few years ago a company was formed in California for the purpose of making sugar from watermelons, but apparently without practical results.

Musk melon Vine.

Musk melon Vine.

Green Citron Melon.

Green Citron Melon.

Large Muskmelon.

Large Muskmelon.

Watermelon Vine.

Watermelon Vine.

Carolina Watermelon.

Carolina Watermelon.

The citron watermelon is small, nearly spherical, handsomely marbled with different shades of green, with a white, solid, tough, and seedy flesh, which is quite unpalatable. This is exclusively used for making sweetmeats; the flesh is cut into convenient pieces, often into fancy shapes, and cooked in sirup, becoming semi-transparent; the pre-serve has a slight but peculiar and distinct flavor of its own; it is often prepared with fresh ginger in imitation of the imported preserved ginger.

Citron Watermelon.

Citron Watermelon.