Makataan (Citrullus lanatus, from the cucurbitaceae family) are edible wild watermelons indigenous to the Southern African region. The Makataan wild watermelons have been cultivated in South Africa since pre-colonial times.
Common names: tsamma melon, wild watermelon (Eng.); bitterboela, bitterwaatlemoen, karkoer (Afr.); t’sama (Khoisan); makataan (Tswana)
It grows wild in grassland and bushland, mostly in sandy soils of the Kgalagadi region of the Northern Cape, and under cultivation Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
The plant is a creeping melon vine that can grow up to 10 m long. It has deeper roots than the more commonly known commercial watermelons, therefore can hold water for longer periods, and survive better in times of drought.
The fruits of wild plants can grow up to about 20 cm in diameter, they are usually greenish, mottled with darker green. The fruits of cultivated plants are usually bigger, rounded or oval with yellow to dark green skin that is mottled or striped. The flesh is white to yellow, and juicy, and contains up to 90% water.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.