melon, fruit of Cucumis melo, a plant of the family Curcurbitaceae (gourd family) native to Asia and now cultivated extensively in warm regions. There are many varieties, differing in taste, color, and skin texture—e.g., Persian, honeydew, casaba, muskmelon, and cantaloupe. The true cantaloupe (var. cantalupensis ), introduced to Cantalupo, Italy, from Armenia, is a hard-shelled or rock melon. It is little grown outside the Mediterranean countries; the cantaloupes of the United States are varieties of the muskmelon. Melon is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Curcurbitaceae.
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