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Kiwano, also known as the horned melon, is a unique and intriguing fruit native to Africa. Its striking appearance, with a spiky orange exterior and green, jelly-like interior, has made it a popular choice among fruit enthusiasts. Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, kiwano is a type of vine-ripened fruit that is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients.


The name “kiwano” is derived from the Swahili language, in which it is written as “kiwano”. The fruit is also known by various other names, including horned melon, blowfish fruit, and African horned cucumber.


Kiwano is a small to medium-sized fruit, typically measuring between 4-6 cm in length and 2-3 cm in width. Its exterior is covered with sharp, spiky protrusions, giving it a distinctive appearance. The fruit has a bright orange color and is slightly curved, resembling a horn. The interior is green and jelly-like, with numerous small seeds.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Kiwano belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and is scientifically known as Cucumis metuliferus. It is a member of the same family as cucumbers, squash, and melons. There are several cultivars of kiwano, including:

‘Horned Melon’The most common cultivar, known for its bright orange color and spiky exterior.
‘Blowfish’A smaller cultivar with a more rounded shape and a lighter orange color.
‘African Horned Cucumber’A larger cultivar with a more elongated shape and a darker orange color.

Distribution and Habitat

Kiwano is native to Africa, specifically in the countries of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. It is typically grown in warm, dry climates with well-drained soil.


Kiwano is a relatively easy fruit to cultivate, requiring a warm and dry climate. It is usually grown on a trellis or other support system, as it is a climbing vine. The fruit is harvested when it is mature and the spines have turned from green to orange.

Production and Uses

Kiwano is a popular fruit in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. It is often eaten fresh, used in salads, or pickled. The fruit is also used in traditional medicine in Africa, where it is believed to have various health benefits.


Kiwano contains a variety of phytochemicals, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants


Kiwano has a unique and refreshing flavor, often described as a combination of cucumber, kiwi, and banana.


Kiwano is generally considered safe to eat, but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.


Kiwano is a nutrient-rich fruit, providing:

  • High water content (95%)
  • Low calorie count (20 calories per 100g)
  • Good source of vitamin C and potassium


Kiwano has a significant cultural importance in Africa, where it is often served at special occasions and ceremonies. In some cultures, the fruit is believed to have spiritual significance and is used in traditional rituals.


  • “Kiwano is a fruit that is both familiar and exotic, with a flavor that is both sweet and savory.” – Chef and food writer, Mark Bittman
  • “The horned melon is a true delight, with its spiky exterior and creamy interior.” – Food blogger, Sarah Britton


NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Energy20 calories
Vitamin C10mg
‘Horned Melon’Bright orange, spiky exteriorSouth Africa
‘Blowfish’Smaller, lighter orange colorNamibia
‘African Horned Cucumber’Larger, darker orange colorBotswana

Traditional Medicine

Kiwano has been used in traditional medicine in Africa for centuries, where it is believed to have various health benefits, including:

  • Treating fever and respiratory problems
  • Relieving pain and inflammation
  • Aiding digestion and reducing bloating
  • Supporting immune function

Culinary Uses

Kiwano is a versatile fruit that can be used in a variety of dishes, including:

  • Salads: Slice the fruit and combine with greens, nuts, and cheese for a refreshing salad.
  • Smoothies: Blend the fruit with yogurt and milk for a healthy and delicious smoothie.
  • Sauces: Use the fruit to make a sweet and tangy sauce for meat or vegetables.
  • Pickling: Slice the fruit and soak in a brine solution for a crunchy and flavorful snack.

Fun Facts

  • Kiwano is also known as the “blowfish fruit” due to its spiky exterior.
  • The fruit is a popular ingredient in African cuisine, particularly in South Africa and Namibia.
  • Kiwano is a low-calorie fruit, making it a great choice for those watching their weight.

Growing Kiwano

Kiwano is a relatively easy fruit to grow, requiring:

  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Regular watering
  • Support system (trellis or stake)

Pest and Disease Management

Kiwano is susceptible to pests and diseases, including:

  • Aphids
  • Whiteflies
  • Powdery mildew
  • Root rot


Kiwano, the horned melon, is a unique and nutritious fruit that offers a range of health benefits and culinary uses. With its striking appearance and refreshing flavor, it’s no wonder this fruit is gaining popularity worldwide.


  • “Kiwano: A Review of its Nutritional and Medicinal Properties” (Journal of Food Science)
  • “The Horned Melon: A Fruit with a Rich History and Culture” (African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development)
  • “Growing Kiwano: A Guide for Gardeners” (Gardening Know How)