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A melon is any of various plants of the family Cucurbitaceae with sweet edible, fleshy fruit. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit. Botanically, a melon is a kind of berry, specifically a "pepo". Many different cultivars have been produced, particularly of muskmelons.
Melons originated in Africa and southwest Asia, but they gradually began to appear in Europe toward the end of the Roman Empire. However recent discoveries of melon seeds dated between 1350 and 1120 BC in Nuragic sacred wells have shown that melons were first brought to Europe by the Nuragic civilization of Sardinia during the Bronze Age. Melons were among the earliest plants to be domesticated in both the Old and New Worlds. Early European settlers in the New World are recorded as growing honeydew and casaba melons as early as the 1600s. A number of Native American tribes in New Mexico, including Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Navajo, Santo Domingo and San Felipe, maintain a tradition of growing their own characteristic melon cultivars, derived from melons originally introduced by the Spanish. Organizations like Native Seeds/SEARCH have made an effort to collect and preserve these and other heritage seeds.