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Watermelons are indigenous to tropical Africa, where they are found wild on both sides of the equator. They were developed from a native African vine. Their cultivation by man dates back 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptians, as proven by artistic records. Watermelons spread from ancient Egypt to India and Asia and were widely distributed throughout the remainder of the world by Africans and European colonists. 7

The generic name Citrullus is the diminutive of Citrus, perhaps referring to the spherical fruit. The specific epithet lanatus (meaning woolly) refers to dense woolly hairs on young parts of the plants, particularly stems. 1