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CUCUMIS melo 'Charantais'

Image of Cucumis melo 'Charantais'

Jessie Keith

Family

Cucurbitaceae

Botanical Name

CUCUMIS melo 'Charantais'

Plant Common Name

Charantais Melon, French Melon

General Description

The small, deliciously sweet melon, 'Charentais', is the best known and loved French melon. Each slightly netted fruit is yellow-tan on the exterior with distinctive green shallow furrows. Inside, the fragrant, sweet flesh is dark orange. Several charentais cultivars have been bred—though some claim to have the original — so this is also considered a regional melon type rather than a single cultivated variety. The first charentais melons are believed to have been bred and selected near Poitou-Charentes, a region in central western France, sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Melons are tropical annual vines with long, spreading stems that cling via springy tendrils. Their big lobed leaves are coarse, fuzzy and medium to deep green. Bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers are produced when the vines reach maturity. The flowers are monoecious, meaning separate male and female yellow flowers appear on each vine. The pollen producing male flowers open first, followed by the female flowers, which have distinctive bulbous ovaries at their bases. Only the female flowers produce melons and each must be pollinated by bees for fruit set, so be sure to encourage these productive garden insects.

Melons require full sun and friable, fertile, deep soil with good drainage. A neutral pH is best. Vines should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. It is common practice to create mounds of soil to grow melons in. The seed can be directly sown in ground, and plants take an average of 90 days to produce harvestable fruit. Melons need space and should be surrounded by a layer of straw to protect the fruits from rot and keep weeds at bay. If space is limited, they can be grown on a trellis and fruits supported with cloth slings. Heavy rains can cause ripe fruits on the vine to split and lose sweetness.

Cantaloupes are best harvested when the skin becomes fragrant and the melon can be easily removed from the vine. 'Charentais' melons become yellower at the base when ripe. Mature fruits also smell sweet on the outside and emit a hollow sound if knocked. This melon type has a relatively short shelf life and should be eaten shortly after harvest.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 4

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    8"-14" / 20.3cm - 35.6cm

  • Width

    5'-12' / 1.5m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Orange, Light Yellow, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Herb / Vegetable, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes