There are two main types of melon within the curcubit family, but hundreds of different variants with a wide range of colours, shapes, sizes, and tastes. Cucumis Melo – cantaloupe, muskmelon and honeydew melon – is one of them, commonly labelled as the the cantaloupe group. Citrullus lanatus is the other, represented by the watermelons.
In general, cantaloupes have a sweeter and more compact pulp than watermelons. Seeds are contained in a discrete sack which is easily removed prior to consumption.
True Cantaloupes (var. cantaloupensis) have deeply grooved fruit with a hard, scaly rind, strongly to moderately ribbed and orange or green aromatic flesh.
Muskmelons (var. reticulatus) are netted aromatic melons with or without ribs. They are also called rockmelon or cantaloupe (US).
Persian melons (also var. reticulatus) are larger and ripen later than muskmelon. They do not slip off the vines at maturity and are sometimes classified as inodorous types.
Inodorous types (Winter melons) include casabas, crenshaws and honeydews. The fruit are large, late maturing and must be cut off the vines at harvest as they do not slip from the stem when mature. They can be kept over one month in storage.
All these melon types are members of the same species and can be easily crossed, so that such classification is not always relevant and differs depending upon sources.
Watermelons vary in size and shape from round to oblong. Rind colours are generally light to dark green, with or without stripes. Flesh is less sweet and less dense than cantaloupes and usually dark red, red, or yellow. Fruits are often larger than cantaloupes. Oblong types with dark stripes on a light background are often called Jubilee types.
Those with a light green rind – but similar 10 to 15 kilogram weight - are Charleston Grays. Round, smaller melons with a striped rind are commonly called Crimson Sweet. Those with a blocky shape are Royal Sweet or Mirage types.