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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... watermelons, the succulent summer fruit that Mark Twain has described as "chief of this world's luxuries."


CURWOOD: On a hot summer day, at a picnic or on the porch, you're likely to see someone savoring the sweet taste of watermelon. It's no surprise watermelons make a refreshing snack. This fruit contains more than 90% water. In fact, watermelon, which is native to Africa, is a good source of portable and potable water for desert travelers. Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting watermelon cultivation date as far back as 2500 BC. And though popular everywhere, watermelons have become the quintessential summer fruit for Americans. In his book Puddin' head Wilson, Mark Twain penned this tribute: "The true Southern watermelon is a boon apart, and not to be mentioned with commoner things. It is chief of this world's luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the Earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a southern watermelon that Eve took. We know it because she repented." By the way, the heaviest watermelon on record, weighing in at 262 pounds, was grown in Tennessee. Another watermelon record was set by a Texan: 75 feet 2 inches is the number on the books, not for watermelon size but for watermelon seed spitting distance. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth almanac.



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