Cucumber (C. sativus) x Muskmelon (C. melo) Hybrids by using Kiwano (C. metuliferus) as Bridge Species Possible?

I’d Love to get y’all Inputs on this Idea, Have y’all tried it? I feel like there’s a 3-way Hybrid Swarm just waiting to happen by using Mentor Pollination Technique. C. melo x C. metuliferus are Partially Compatible!

Confirmed Hybrids between C. melo x C. metuliferus exist despite being to (What I assumed at the time) was different subgenera. But the Hybrid proves that African Hornmelon’s are genetically closer to Wild Muskmelons than they are to Cucumbers. However some hybrids aren’t fully stable because of Backcrossing problems (This can be solved by mixing Pollen from both together, then Pollinating both species with that mix aka Mentor Pollination).

Some of the cool things discovered in the progeny

  1. Fruits were Larger than Either Parent (This is Probably how wild Fruits get so Large, Example Cucumis melo Complex.)
  2. Ribbing & Netting in Some F2 Progeny (This is Probably how Cantelopes gained that Trait, via Hybrid swarm of Many Species in the C. melo Complex, which includes C. melo, C. trigonus, C. pubecens, C. callosus)
  3. Andromonoecious flowers (Flowers with Both Male & Female Parts) occurring in the F2 but in neither parent. (This also sometimes occurs in Pure C. melo Cultivars too.)
  4. High Fertility in F1 Progeny. Use this to Achieve introgression (2 Species Integrating to become 1) by having all Parents & Hybirds constantly Cross with each other like a Promiscuous Hybird Swarm.

**Below is the Study with Confirmed C. metuliferus x C. melo hybrids Other EPIC USEFUL INFO!
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288264403_Characteristics_of_progeny_from_an_interspecific_cross_of_Cucumis_melo_with_C_metuliferus

Here’s a Picture of the Hybrids from the Study. I believe they used a Wild C. melo.

A study was done with Crossing Cucumber (C. sativus) x African Horn Melon (C. metuliferus).
They did Set fruit but Turns out the Flat Seeds weren’t Viable. Maybe the Hybrid (C. melo x C. metuliferus) help this issue? What about the Wild Cucumber (C. hystrix x C. sativus)?

Below is Link to the Paid Study (I read all this info just from the Summary preview)

Here’s a Phylogenic Tree of Cucumis


Note how C. metuliferus is closer to the Gherkin (C. anguria) group but can cross with C. melo.
Also there seems to be some species between C. sativus group & C. melo Complex like C. umbellatus & C. queenslandicus. Perhaps these are the species needed to Finally Cross Cucumbers & melons. Let’s look at their fruits to see if Morphological (Form/Shape), they look in between Melon & Cucumber.

Here’s Cucumis queenslandicus. Doesn’t have Obvious Bumps, Muskmelons Never have Bumps.

And Here’s Cucumis umbellatus. The Bumps look more Cucumber Like

After Looking at Photogenic Trees & Morphological Features, I’m more Convinced that these could be Bridge Species for Cucumber & Muskmelon. Add on the Hybrid (C. melo x C. metuliferus) and we Might just make History Happen by doing the Impossible. Only problem is I have no African Horn Melon Seeds nor do I have Land to make it happen, so Maybe Someone here with Land access & seeds can do it. I hope someone is able to do it cuz I would’ve done it myself if I had access to land.

Anyways what do y’all think? Any Advice y’all could offer? If I remember Correctly @Joseph_Lofthouse mentioned something about breeding Bitter Wild C. melo with Domesticated Muskmelons & had to loose a whole year’s worth of seed. I want to learn from other’s experience with something similar, It’s very Valuable to me. Our Ancestors figured out how to make Melons & Squash not bitter, why can’t we do it again? We have their Giant Sholders to Stand on & Modern Phylogenic Trees to use, thus we have it easier than what they had to do, right?

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Amazing find in that paper, and exactly what I was planning on doing soon.

C. metuliferus grows like an absolute weed here, while melo struggles to compete. I did a variety trial with melo and nothing stood out, so I put the species aside. I am bulking up four sources of metuliferus this season, with an aim to try to use it to develop a stronger melo like plant. Happy to send you seed if you want (I should have loads soon).

The plan was to mentor graft melo seedlings onto metuliferus rootstocks (with a phase where the rootstock is allowed to keep its leaves, while the scion has its removed to drive sap flow upwards). Then I will plant them out. I was planning on trying melo x metuliferus controlled crosses (with microwave killed mentor pollen as well) to see if I get any lucky strikes. Back crossing to melo is the long term plan, until fruit quality is adequate. I am aiming for a crop I can sow in late winter for spring fruiting since there is gap in fruit production here. Spring is often dry here, so I will need to grow it on the creek flats where it will need to be vigorous enough to clamber over weeds to some degree.

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OK- Finally had a chance to read the paper. Seems like they report that multiple previous attempts at this hybrid failed, but they succeeded using a semi wild strain of C. melo. A great reminder that you can never just say species A and B are compatible/incompatible. Even individuals within the same “species” can often be incompatible, and the right combo in a wide hybrid can suddenly work fine. This means try as many different strains as you can get your hands on and grow to maturity. It also suggests a possible advantage of growers collecting/storing/pooling pollen of a particular species, though viability drops rapidly without consistent freezing.

The cross is well established to be real. Backcrossing didnt work, but F2 was produced with no real problems. They grew out thousands of the things. I wonder what happened to the germ plasm? Given this was 1980 I am pretty sure it was thrown out eventually. It is so sad wide crosses are abandoned if they dont yield instant commercial results. Why grow a weird inedible hybrid by the hundreds when you could put that effort into an inbred commercial strain? So short sighted…

I will be trying metuliferus crossing with a range of named melo strains. The chromosome counts line up, so I suspect some specific protein compatibility mechanism in the stigma is the issue. This has a good chance of breaking with mentor grafting and/or mentor pollination. If I am reading the paper right the melo was the female parent of the cross (convention puts the female first in a hybrid name), but I will try crossing both ways to be sure.

Absolutely, DM me about it.

That’s Amazing, It’s likely you taking Michurin’s work & expanding it! Thank you for the Idea.

Microwave? wait that’s somehow useful here? I’ve never heard of such things, fascinating. Wait is it to induce radiation to Increase Chances of Accepting Pollen?

This is so interesting? Doesn’t that also ruin the entire Definition the C. melo species? All C. melo must be able to cross with each other, right? Otherwise it’s not a species?
Also could the incompatibility be explained by the C. melo complex (Since the species is actually a Combination of highly Inter-Crossable C. trigonus, C. pubecens, C. callosus, C. melo species? C. picocarpus being outside the complex but still crossable?)

Also in Australia, do you ever Forage for Wild Seeds? I’ve read about C. picocarpus being native there? As well as other Cucumis species. Perhaps a wild species that’s already adapted to your Australian conditions? The only thing is C. metuliferus has cultivars with non Bitter Forms, meaning Half the work is already done, thus is it worth the time foraging for wild melons in your area? Wild Cucumis melo Complex are a Wild Edible in India known as Kachri. Aparently has a Tart, Aromatic Flavor? They are also Sundired into Slices than Grinded into a Powder. Is Dosokai melon semi wild? I ask cuz it also has a nice Tart sour Flavor, with a little bitterness left over.

Thank you two for this great discussion. I think I have some cuc.callosus which are from 2022. By this time I didn’t know much about them, So thank you, I think I’ll try first to make a patch with melo, callosus and metulliferus intertwinned, and maybe (if I got time) try some manual cross-pollination. If not, just watch for the next generations for something different to pop up.
Could add cuc. anguria and zambianus too by the way. These produce here in any circumstance.

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Awesome! although I wonder how easily C. anguria & C. cambianus will cross? (And how Bitter/Non Bitter your Varieties are) Phylogenically they seem to form their own group, distinctly from C. metuliferus, but if C. melo & C. metuliferus can cross, why can’t those cross too.

Also I’ve heard that the Wild C. melo crosses better with C. metuliferus than the Domesticated C. melo.

Those 2 species should be able to cross with Cucumis metuliferus. So yea, add them in! Also If I’m not mistaken, Cucumis anguria was suspected to be of domesticated origin, since no Wild Cucumis anguria was ever found.

Also doesn’t cucumis callosus self sow? This would be perfect for guerrilla gardening.

Thanks for these additions. Will add them then! Even if I am a bit afraid of losing the metuliferus sweetness… Anyway these are really not demanding plants… As always they yield higher with irrigations and nutrients but I have harvested a few kilos of each last year on a few plants with no irrigation… And utter neglect… So to say among weeds… Let say 2 to 3 kiwanos per plant.

I did not see cucumis callosus self sowing, but it may be able to… I did not replant any in 2023, maybe seeds died during frosts of last year’s winter? Maybe…
I think I will sow some this year.

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You might loose it one place but gain it in another :grin:
Try it some cucumis melo while you’re at it!
A few Kilos is Awesome!

hmm… So Cucumis seeds don’t soil bank well in frosty conditions? They could just be waiting for warmer weather or Squirrel dug all the seeds up to eat. I planted Cucumis melo & Cucurbita spp. in early March at a Parking Lot (Frost came 3 Days Later). I found some seeds after digging for them
about a week later, Seeds Don’t look damage. This makes me suspect they are just waiting for the right time to start growing. What do you think?

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Yes! You right about the gain! Thank you ! As I look at kiwano like my main crop, I did not even think the other way round!.
A few kilos is for a patch of a few square meters, so wasn’t yielding great in my opinion compared to 2022 where I dry farmed them, using a bit of compost, and harvested a filled wheelbarrow from 7 plants.

Of that I really don’t have a clue and would not expect much… but yes they are maybe waiting for warmth.

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Quick Question, doesn’t Kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus) have those Crazy Genetics that make the Plant Srawl like Crazy? I’m just thinking what those genetics could do in Cucumis melo? In other words can we get Cucumis melo so Weedy & Savage that it climbs up trees & overHangs Huge Melons on Tree Branches? Imagine that as a wild edible!?

In my experience, kiwano grow dense, so when you look at your plant it is shadowing the soil, so take care of the weeds if cultivated properly. But it is not sprawling like crazy.
But that is my experience, with three strains. Two oval shaped one round: i.e. what I believe the lines initially bred for modern agriculture in temperate climates, that first started in New Zealand where the name “kiwano” originated for commercial purposes - if I am right.
So there may be very different sprawling habits. These days I still consider ordering tens of landraces from the Eurisco database, so to say in the european seedbanks. I found 63 strains, of which at least 40 native landraces coming from Zimbabwe, Kenya and a few other places. I believe I would need to delve a bit more into the scientific litterature before doing that, as I would not like to discover in my field that most kiwanos are short-day flowering and that it is the first thing that has been bred out, or that kind of things…
I have already red through a paper on assesment of genetic variability within the kiwano species which said there was really less genetic variability in cucumis metulliferus (kiwano) than in melo (melon) or sativus (cucumber), but did not read any paper adressing growth habits.

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Interesting, Short day was bred out of C. metuliferus? And what if you still have the short day genetics in your landrace? Does this mean covering the entire kiwano plant with shade cloth to induce flowering?

More reasons to breed C. metuliferus with C. melo, to expand & Diversify the genetics available.

No that was just an hypothesis: something I would not like to see in my field