Cucumis metuliferus, horned melon or kiwano, also African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd, melano, is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae. Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name “horned melon”. Ripe fruit has orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a refreshingly fruity taste, and texture similar to a passionfruit or pomegranate. C. metuliferus is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is now grown in the United States, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand.
Kiwano is a traditional food plant in Africa. Along with the Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus) and Tsamma (Citron melon) it is one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert. In northern Zimbabwe it is called gaka or gakachika, and is primarily used as a snack or salad, and rarely for decoration. It can be eaten at any stage of ripening.
The fruit’s taste has been compared to a combination of banana and passionfruit or a combination of banana, cucumber and lime. A small amount of salt or sugar can increase the flavor. Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber.
The fruit can be used in a smoothie, salad, salsa or cocktail.
Seeding optimum germination temperatures are between 20° and 35 °C (68° to 95 °F). Germination is delayed at 12 °C (54 °F), and inhibited at temperatures lower than 12 °C or above 35 °C. Thus, it is recommended to sow in trays and transplant into the field at the two true leaf stage. The best time for transplanting into an open field is in the spring when soil and air temperatures rise to around 15 °C (59 °F).