Species: C. melo
Subspecies: C. melo subsp. melo
Variety: C. melo var. cantalupensis
Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis
Cantaloupe (also canteloupe, cantaloup, mushmelon, muskmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, Persian melon, spanspek (South Africa), or Garma گرما) refers to a variety of Cucumis melo, a species in the family Cucurbitaceae. Cantaloupes range in size from 500 g to 5 kg (1 to 10 lb). Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted, orange-fleshed melons of Europe. However, in more recent usage, it has come to mean any orange-fleshed melon (C. melo). Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon in the United States.
The name is derived, via French, from the Italian Cantalupo which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome. Tradition has it, that this is where it was first cultivated in Europe, on its introduction from Ancient Armenia.3 Its first known usage in English dates from 1739 in The Gardeners Dictionary Vol. II by Scottish botanist Philip Miller (1691–1771).
The European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed, with a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.
The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and in some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a net-like (or reticulated) skin covering. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-brown rind.4 Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common in the U.S. market.