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The cultivation of watermelon dates back over 5000 years. A yough, drought-tolerant ancestor of watermelon thrived in southern Africa where it was prized for its ability to store water by the indigenous people of the Kalahari Desert region. Traces of watermelon and its seeds have been discovered on sites of the 12th Egyptian Dynasty and paintings have been found in ancient Egyptian inscriptions. The sweet fruit we enjoy today is the result of mutations over the course of a thousand years of cultivation.
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Surprisingly it is a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, which also contains a number of garden vegetables including cucumber, squash, pumpking and musk melon. Aply named, watermelon is 92 percent water. There are over 1,200 varieties of watermelon grown across 96 countries. The heaviest watermelon ever produced weighed 350.5 pounds and was grown in Tennessee.
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