Watermelon plants and pumpkin plants look very similar at first glance. They are both large vines with long stems and large leaves. And the secret to telling them apart lies in those leaves.
Watermelon Vs Pumpkin Leaves
Both watermelons and pumpkins have large lobed leaves. In lobed leaves the main body of the leaf is divided into projections with gaps in between. The lobes of the watermelon leaf are more rounded and smooth along their edges than those of the pumpkin. And watermelon leaves are a darker, more bluish shade of green, compared with the lighter, more apple green shade of the pumpkin leaf.
Pumpkin leaves are generally larger than watermelon leaves but that of course will depend on the overall size of the plant. Today we’ll compare watermelon vs pumpkin leaves, and look at other similarities and differences between these two popular fruits.
- Watermelon leaf appearance
- What do pumpkin leaves look like?
- Watermelon vs pumpkin leaves
- Are watermelon vs pumpkin leaves edible?
- Watermelon vs pumpkin seeds
- Health benefits of watermelons vs pumpkins
Watermelons and pumpkins are both from the melon family known as Cucurbitaceae, which also includes gourds and cucumbers. While you probably have no trouble telling the difference between a watermelon and a pumpkin, what about the leaves? Is there any distinction, or is it hard to tell them apart?
What do Watermelon Leaves Look Like?
Watermelons are big, sweet, juicy, and a delicious way to quench your thirst on a hot day. The quintessential summer treat originates from African desert climates, where they were used more as a source of water than food. They consist of 92% water, and the thick rind made them easy to transport without damage and store for long periods.
Watermelons grow on sprawling vines and come in many varieties with a wide range of skin patterns and sizes.
The leaves are light green with a hint of silvery white and feature three distinctive finger-like lobes divided into smaller lobes. The rounded edges are coarse and similar to oak leaves without the point. The texture feels slightly sandpapery or hairy.
It’s not uncommon to see watermelon plants growing up a trellis or over a wire frame, where the heavier fruits may need to be supported in baskets.
What do Pumpkin Leaves Look Like?
Big, round, and orange, pumpkins are equally distinctive in appearance. Their sweet, earthy flavor, is similar to that of sweet potato and used in soups, breads, and desserts. Their versatile flavor means everyone should have a go at growing them at least once. While pumpkins are closely associated with Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving, they’re believed to have originated in Mexico and were a food staple for Native Americans.
Like watermelon, they come in many varieties and have a water content in the 90% range. Pumpkin leaves are broad, flat, and very large. They are shaped like a spade with three or more veins and often have serrated edges. Depending on the variety, color ranges from dark green to light or grey-green.
You are more likely to see pumpkin vines trailing along the ground than climbing up a trellis though there are exceptions.
How Do You Tell the Difference Between Watermelon vs Pumpkin Leaves?
Watermelons and pumpkins both grow their fruit on long, sprawling vines. As seedlings, they’re very similar in appearance and can be hard to tell apart. However, as the plant matures, the differences in the leaves are more noticeable.
If you look closely, watermelon leaves have rounded lobes, while pumpkin leaves are pointier. If watermelon leaves resemble that of oak, you could say pumpkin leaves look more like maple leaves.
Watermelon leaves are typically about half the size of pumpkin leaves.
Watermelon vs Pumpkin Leaves Edibility
Since people have been eating plant leaves since ancient times, watermelon leaves may be edible but should be cooked first. However, eating large amounts of watermelon leaves, seeds, stems, and rinds can cause gastrointestinal blockage.
Pumpkin leaves are edible with a mild taste that’s sometimes compared to a combination of spinach and broccoli. Although these large leaves have a thick spine and a spiky outer layer, these can be removed. It’s also important to choose the right leaves. Harvest smaller leaves that are about the size of your hand and add to soups and salads.
Watermelon vs Pumpkin Seeds
Watermelon seeds are small and black or mottled dark brown. Those small white seeds you sometimes find are simply unripe. All watermelon seeds start this way before growing into larger black or dotted seeds. Although usually thrown away or sometimes used in seed spitting contests, watermelon seeds are edible and highly nutritious.
Pumpkin seeds are small and green with a flat, teardrop-shaped, yellowish-white shell surrounding them.
If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin for Hallowe’en, you probably scooped them from its stringy orange flesh.
These seeds are also very nutritious. You can crack open the shell and eat the inside or roast them right in the shell. Pumpkins seeds are also packed with nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and copper.
Watermelon vs Pumpkin Seeds Taste
It would be nice if watermelon seeds tasted like watermelon, but they actually taste more like sunflower seeds, with a slightly less nutty flavor. They’re also high in protein and B vitamins, including niacin, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, B6, and pantothenic acid.
You can eat the seeds raw or roast them and add to your salads, smoothies, or yogurt. But the best way to eat watermelon seeds is to shell and sprout them. The outer layer can be hard to digest, and sprouting galvanizes the most nutritional benefits.
Raw pumpkin seeds are chewy and don’t have a lot of flavor. Roasting them provides a crunchier texture and enhances the taste, especially if you add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or paprika.
Watermelon vs Pumpkin Health Benefits
Watermelon has a high water content and is low in calories—about 46 per cup. It can satisfy your sweet tooth and help keep you hydrated at the same time. The red flesh in watermelon has up to 40% more lycopene than tomatoes. Studies have found that this antioxidant plant compound may decrease the risk of diabetes and some cancers and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Watermelon also contains Vitamins A and C, both important for healthy skin, and an amino acid called citrulline that may reduce muscle soreness and improve exercise performance and recovery time.
In addition to being delicious, low in calories, and very versatile, pumpkin contains a wealth of antioxidants, including vitamins C, B2, and E. It’s also one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
Pumpkin’s high fiber content can leave you feeling fuller for longer to help minimize cravings and support healthy digestion. It’s high in potassium, which may reduce blood sugar levels and support healthy blood pressure, and also contains the minerals iron, copper, and manganese.
Comparing Watermelon vs Pumpkin Leaves
Watermelon and pumpkin are distant cousins that grow on vines. They may start out looking the same, but as they grow, it becomes easier to tell these two fruits apart. Watermelon leaves are smaller, with rounded lobes, while pumpkin leaves are pointer and much larger.
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- Naz et al. “Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims,” PubMed Central, June 2014
- Martínez-Sánchez et al. “Biochemical, physiological, and performance response of a functional watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline during a half-marathon race,” PubMed Central, June 2017
- Filippini et al. “The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” PubMed Central, March 2017