There is a meme circulating on Facebook right now giving advice on how to pick a watermelon. I didn’t give it much thought until a week or two ago while giving a tour on our farm, I was asked about it.
Do you know how to pick a watermelon?
The meme suggests that when you lean into the watermelon bin at the supermarket, you want the smaller, more round “male” watermelon instead of the larger, more oblong “female” watermelon. When I saw it, I snickered and let it go. Unfortunately, the last time I saw it in my feed, something like 25 million people had viewed it.
Are there male and female watermelons?
So, here’s the straight truth. There is no such thing as a male watermelon. Period.
There is a lot of botany that I could go into about how this confusion could have started, because flowers are complicated.
- There are male and female flower structures in the plant world.
- Sometimes there are male and female structures in the same flower.
- Sometimes separate flowers on the same plant are either male or female. Think of the squash family (such as zucchini).
- Separate flowers on different plants can sometimes be either male or female. Think kiwi or holly.
What makes a flower male or female?
The very difference between a male and female flower is the presence or absence of the ovary, or the structure that has the potential to become a fruit. The male flower is male because it only contains the male structures found in a flower (the anther and the filament where pollen is located). Without an ovary, there can be no “male” watermelon.
Should the male species be complimented by this bit of misinformation? After all, apparently we are supposed to choose the male over the female. I’m not so sure it’s all to the good… both the male and female in this fairy tale are bald so that’s a draw, but the male melon is supposedly short and fat.
How to Pick a Watermelon
There are many, many different varieties of delicious watermelon. Right now I’m growing an heirloom called a golden midget. At the end of the day, I can’t tell you exactly how to pick the best watermelon, but I can tell you how to choose the healthiest.
Avoid Seedless Watermelons
Pick the melon you like, but I beg you, choose one with the seeds. The seeds are edible, medicinal, and quite delicious when roasted. Watermelons are anti-inflammatory and helpful for asthma, heart health, diabetes, and arthritis. They are a rich source of vitamins A and C and contain a high concentration of antioxidants. The seeds are really great for urinary tract and kidney health. Check out even more benefits of watermelon.
The unfortunate part of that now infamous meme is that there may be a few tips there that are worth trying but I’ll never know because they lost me at “male.”