True cantaloupes are not grown in the U.S., but in Europe, and they look nothing like the cantaloupe you may know from your local market. Cantaloupe has become a common name for the netted melons with a musk scent also known as muskmelons. It is these melons that gardeners grow in America. While both European and American cantaloupes are muskmelons, not all muskmelons are cantaloupes.
Humans may be the best distributors of cantaloupe seed. People not only plant melons in their gardens, they trade in seed, selling seed from the melons across the country and around the world. By way of grocery stores, people have an organised network for transporting and distributing the fruits -- and so their seeds -- around the globe. Melons may even be raised in regions where conditions render it impossible for the plants to grow without human assistance or intervention. Because people are highly mobile, they may carry fruits with them, scooping out and discarding the seeds before consuming the flesh. Humans also directly distribute the fruits to animals such as livestock and indirectly provide them for wildlife.
Birds may consume seeds from cantaloupe and excrete them in their droppings in other locations. These locations may be several miles from the place where the melons were discovered. Birds may also carry away or store seeds, introducing them into new locations when they are accidentally dropped or purposefully buried, hidden or stored for later consumption.
Wild animals such as raccoons and opossums eat fruit as part of their diets. They may find poorly protected garden cantaloupes easy pickings, consuming the fruit on site and passing the seeds through their excrement as they travel or carrying off fruits or portions of fruits, dropping seeds along the way. Livestock such as pigs may be fed unused material from cantaloupes, including seeds and rinds, as a part of their diet. This serves multiple purposes, providing dietary interest for the animals and recycling kitchen waste. Farm animals may distribute seeds in the same manner as wildlife.
Melon seeds placed in trash, green waste or compost piles may be carried several miles from the location where plants were grown. While seeds that fail to break down in compost may only travel to a site within the same yard or garden, collected green waste and trash may be widely distributed. If left in open-air dumps, birds and wildlife may further distribute seeds from waste processing facilities.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Cantaloupe & Honeydew Melons; Gilbert Miller; April 2003
- The National Opossum Society: Diet
- Trees for Life; Seed Dispersal; Dan Puplett
- The Seed Site: Dispersal of Seeds By Animals
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Fruit -- The Ripened Ovary of an Angiosperm Flower
- University of Illinois Extension; Cantaloupe or Muskmelon?; Jennifer Schultz Nelson; July 2007