At least 40 years.
Evergreen in warm regions but deciduous in cold regions where leaves turn red
in the fall.
Slow to moderate depending on location.
25' high and as wide after 30 years. Female trees are larger than male trees.
Green, small, separate male and female flowers on different trees.
Mid to late spring.
Generally no, but depends on cultivar. For some cultivars, females produce
seedless fruit without pollination (parthenocarpy). If growing a seedless female tree,
a male tree must not be present or the fruit will be seedy.
Years before fruiting:
Ten years from seed, 2-3 years if grafted. The tree tends to drop ripening
fruit when very young, but gets better at retention with age.
The "berry" is an aggregate fruit, red to dark red in color, with many small fruits
clustered together. If not from a seedless cultivar, the berry is very seedy with each fruit
containing 3-6 seeds. Fallen fruit will stain sidewalks. One female tree can produce up to 400
pounds of fruit. The fruit is poor tasting until very ripe. When ripe, it lacks acidity and is
somewhat sweet, bland, and lacking in nutritional value. It's chewy texture is somewhat
like a strawberry.
Months for fruit to ripen:
5. Fruit are ripe when soft and darkening with age, possibly tinged
black. Ripe fruit can be removed with a gentle pull. If a hard tug is required, the fruit is not
ripe. The stem does not bleed white sap when the fruit is picked fully ripe. Fruit ripens on the
tree individually, not all at once.
Storage after harvest:
Can be kept refrigerated unwashed for several weeks in a covered container.
The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.
Light-green, three-lobed to ovate, variable in shape, leaf-out occurs later than apples.
Thorns exist in random locations on young wood, but disappear with age. Plant has milky sap.
Usually grafted onto Osage Orange rootstock to speed fruiting, reduce thorns, and eliminate
suckers. On its own roots, the tree is less vigorous, thornier, and produces abundant suckers.
Cultivars of Note:
'Darrow Melon Berry' female, seedless, cantaloupe to papaya flavor,
chewy texture, USDA zones 5-10.
'Norris Mandarin Melon Berry' female, seedless, watermelon flavor,
more vigorous, USDA zones 5-9.
'Seedless Che' female, seedless, watermelon flavor, USDA zones 5-9.
Leaves attract browsing deer and can be used to host silk worms. Fruit is unappealing
to most animals and birds because of its lack of nutrition.
Toxic / Danger:
Milky sap is mildly poisonous and unripe fruit can cause stomach upset. Thorns.