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Horned melon

Q:  What is this spiked fruit I found growing in the mucky area behind my office?

A:  I am glad you brought a sample to the office.  I believe the spiked fruit is the horned melon or kiwano, Cucumis metuliferus.  Horned melons are produced on vines which were originally from southern and central Africa.  The foliage is evergreen in its native country but it will die back in North Florida’s cooler temperatures. The fruit are about the size of a large pear which starts out light green in color but changes to yellow-orange as it matures. The spines on the outer rind are quite sharp, which made handling the fruit difficult. However, the rind was malleable and easy to cut in half using a utility knife. The interior pulp is a pale green color with many seeds covered by a runny, gelatinous substance.  The interior pulp has been described as tasting similar to a cucumber with a hint of lime. Other descriptions include the adjectives bland and slimy, which was enough to keep me from tasting it.  Be warned, I would not recommend anyone eat the fruit of a wild vine unless they had botanical confirmation of the specific cultivar. There is no need to take an unnecessary and unscheduled trip to the emergency room.