Dudaim melon [Cucumis melo L. var. dudaim (L.) Naudin][CUMMD][CDFA list: A] Photographs Map of Distribution

Paddy melon [Cucumis myriocarpus Naudin][CUMMD][CDFA list A] (see Similar Species) Photographs Map of Distribution

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SYNONYMS:smell melon; pomegranate melon; Queen Anne’s pocket melon; C. odoratissimus Moench.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:A weedy summer annual form of muskmelon, with trailing prostrate stems to 10 m long or more and often forming large mats. Fruits are more or less edible, but plants are most often grown as ornamentals or for the fragrance of the fruits. Plants require much moisture, grow rapidly, and are often highly productive. All varieties of muskmelon, including the commercial cultivars of cantaloupes [C. m. L. var. reticulatus Naud.], readily hybridize with one another, making the presence of dudaim melon in commercial cantaloupe fields highly undesirable. Introduced from tropical Africa.

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SEEDLINGS:Resemble those of commercial muskmelons and cantaloupes. Require much water to reach maturity. High seedling mortality is common.

MATURE PLANT:Stems prostrate, viny, herbaceous, slender, angled in cross-section, several-branched near the base, and typically rough to touch with short stiff hairs. Leaves alternate, more or less palmate, angled or shallowly 3- to 7-lobed, typically 7-8 cm long, 5 cm wide, and covered with very short stiff hairs (scabrous). Tendrils unbranched and 1 per node from the base of the leaf petioles (stipular position).

ROOTS and UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES:Taprooted, with extensive, shallow lateral roots that maximize absorptive area. Adventitious roots occasionally develop at some leaf nodes.

FLOWERS:March-November. Flowers axillary, monoecious, with 1 or more male (staminate) flowers per node and single female (pistillate) flowers at different nodes. Corollas yellow, 2-3 cm in diameter, and deeply 5-lobed, with the petals fused at the bases to form a shallow cup-like tube. Male flowers have 3 separate stamens. Female flowers have an inferior ovary.

FRUITS and SEEDS:Fruits are produced from March until the first hard frost. Pepos or melons oblong to round and generally 3-6 cm wide. Surfaces are net-veined or covered with minute stiff hairs and lack prickles. Immature fruits are green, but become mottled or striped with yellow or orange, or are solid yellow or orange at maturity. Each fruit typically contains about 270 seeds. Seeds are ~ 5 mm long, covered with a sticky gelatinous coating, and resemble those of cantaloupe in shape and color.

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POSTSENESCENCE CHARACTERISTICS:Dried fruits can remain intact for an extended period, with one estimate to 20 years under ideal conditions.

HABITAT:Agricultural fields, especially those in or with past asparagus production, roadsides, and disturbed sites. Often grows near ditches or where water is plentiful.

DISTRIBUTION:Uncommon. Southeastern Sonoran Desert (c & e Imperial Co.). To 200 m (660 ft).

Considered eradicated in California at this time.

PROPAGATION/PHENOLOGY:Germinates nearly year round, except when temperatures are freezing. Germination rates of newly matured seed are high (often > 95%). Immature fruits can contain viable seed. Plants grow rapidly in the warmer months and can produce hundreds of fruits in a short period (42 days). Dry fruits become hard and can remain intact in the soil for extended periods. Fruits float at all stages and can disperse with water. Animals eat fruits at all stages, and excreted seeds appear to remain highly viable. Seeds from broken fruits can adhere to animals, shoes, clothing, tools, and machinery by the sticky coating, which dries like glue.

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MANAGEMENT FAVORING/DISCOURAGING SURVIVAL:Harvesting and destroying or composting fruits can prevent dispersal to new sites.

SIMILAR SPECIES:Unlike commercial cantaloupe, immature fruits of dudaim melon are covered with shorter, stiffer hairs, and fruits become fragrant at 3-6 cm width and mottled or solid yellow/orange with maturity. Paddy melon or bitter apple [Cucumis myriocarpus Naudin] is also a summer annual, but differs from dudaim melon by having deeply lobed leaves and round fruits 2-3 cm wide covered with weak prickles. Fruits, especially seeds, contain cucurbitacins, compounds that can be toxic to livestock or humans when consumed. Paddy melon does not hybridize with commercial melons or dudaim melon and is susceptible to several viruses that affect tomatoes and potatoes. It occurs in fields and disturbed sites in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley and southwestern South Coast Ranges (Santa Barbara Co.). To 300 m (1000 ft). Introduced from South Africa.

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Prevention: Dudaim melon is a weedy annual form of the agriculturally important musk melon (Cucumis melo). It can be utilized for food, but is commercially classified as non-edible. Dudaim melon was thought to be introduced to the Imperial Valley in 1953. It has not been reported beyond the Imperial Valley in California, and extensive eradication efforts have been implemented since 1967. Dudaim melon forms large, dense mats of vines that compete with agricultural crops such as asparagus, cucumber, and musk melon. The greatest threat is its ability to readily hybridize with commercially important varieties of musk melon. The resulting hybrids produce small, bitter melons of poor quality. One dudaim melon plant may produce several hundred melons, each of which may contain over 200 seeds. Germination rates for fresh seed are >95%. Upon reaching maturity, the melons become extremely hard, and seed may be viable for 20 years. Seed are also covered with a mucilaginous coating that sticks to equipment, animals, shoes, and tools. Once dried, the mucilaginous coating is very difficult to remove, even with a steam cleaner. Dudaim melon is a CDFA class A noxious weed.
Dudaim melon also grows along waterways and irrigation canals. The pepos (melons) will float at any stage and may be transported in water for long distances. Infestations along waterways and irrigation ditches should be controlled to prevent seed dispersal to new areas.
Prickly paddy melon is a vinelike, summer annual that is often found in fallowed fields. Growth is rapid following spring rains and melon production is prolific. It is a CDFA class B noxious weed.

Mechanical: Tillage can be very effective for controlling both dudaim and prickly paddy melon. However, dudaim plants may form adventitious roots from nodes along prostrate stems. Therefore, any tillage should completely sever the roots from the shoots and control will be improved if hot, dry conditions follow. Tillage should be conducted before any melons are produced, because some seed are viable, even in very immature pepos.

Biological: Since both dudaim and prickly paddy melons are very closely related to musk melon, biological control has not been pursued. Eradication should be the primary objective when dealing with dudaim melon, and strategies that completely eliminate seed production should be implemented.
Grazing may be effective for controlling these weedy melons. Dudaim melon has been reported to infest pasturelands in the Mexicali Valley in Mexico. Cattle have shown a preference for the pepos. However, the seed can remain viable after excretion in the feces. Therefore, cattle should be removed from infested areas before melons are produced, or should be quarantined prior to movement to other areas.

Chemical: There is very little information regarding chemical control of dudaim melon. Contact herbicides such as paraquat are generally ineffective on large plants, unless thorough coverage is attained. A tank mix of triclopyr (0.20 lb ae/A) and 2,4-D (1.6 lb ae/A) is effective for controlling prickly paddy melon. Glyphosate is generally ineffective on prickly paddy melon and is not recommended. Herbicides should be applied when plants are small. Control will likely decrease with increasing plant size.

Integrated management strategies: Dudaim melon is very difficult to control in established stands of asparagus. The optimal time for melon (seed) production occurs from June through September, which coincides with the optimal time for fern growth of asparagus following harvest. Fern growth is necessary for maximal carbohydrate storage for the following year's crop. There are few control measures that can be implemented after the ferns develop. Fields should be thoroughly surveyed before rotating to asparagus or melons, where dudaim melon is most difficult to control.

Dixon, D and Kreps, L. 1973. Dudaim melon: a threat to asparagus. Proceedings of the California Weed Conference 25:37-42.
Leys, A. R., Amor, R. L., Barnett, A. G, and Plater, B. 1990. Evaluation of herbicides for control of summer growing weeds on fallows in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 30:271-279.
Parsons, W. T. and Cuthbertson, E. G. 1992. Noxious weeds of Australia. Melbourne: Inkata Press. Pp. 409-410.

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