Kiwano is the fruit of Cucumis metulliferus, or Horned Melon. I have known the fruit for a long time without ever affording one (this was more because I couldn’t find it, though the price would have made me think twice before buying one). It is very attractive, with a bright orange epiderm and more or less redish circles and lines driving along the skin. The inside is quite green (which I didn’t expect at first and was really surprised by the colour contrast). The inside is good. The inside is inside.
It happens that the plant itself is thought as a potential help/tool in breeding programs because it seems reasonnably resistant to classic virus and pests that other commecrcially important melons suffer. The problem is that they apparently don’t intercross well, and there are a lot of attempts to improve successful hybridization and things like ‘embryo rescue’ protocoles (i.e., bypass natural development in hybrid seeds by taking the embryo off the seed and try to grow it in vitro on artificial media –that’s sometimes working well and allow to produce interesting plantes for backcrosses and introgressing genes of interest in commercial species).
So… Pretty much everything that sorting out with regard to this species deals with technical aspects of breeding or in vitro protocoles. A good deal of technical aspects. But I learnt a few things in my quick survey.
- First, the fruit can be kept a long time after harvest without losing much of its fruity properties (what’s more, it has even a decrease in acidity in its late days before complete ripe).  Up to three month is no big deal. Considering the price it is sold in Western market places, I was expecting a way shorter life for the fruit once cut off the mother plant. Why is it so expensive, then? (well, okay, I bought an organic one, so this account for part of the price).
- The species has a lot more mineral concentrations in leaves than other edible vegetables. It is thus a good new crop (apart from the commercial potential of fruits) and has probably some future as a vegetable, at farmer markets. At least in countries where it is already a traditional green, such as South Africa. 
- Just like the Best Fruit Ever (TM), it will certainly help breeders that are rearing rats, for it is known to improve the quantity of sperms in this pet animal. (Okay, just kidding. Apparently, there is a huge concern about food that may increase reproductive characteristics. Let’s wait until the next post on an exotic fruit I bought, you’ll certainly have other references. Why not simply advise people to eat more fruits, there are also many other good reasons to do that! ). 
Three things I didn’t know this morning. (What a cool conclusion).
- MENDLINGER S., BENZIONI A., HUYSKENS S., VENTURA M. (1992). Fruit Development and postharvest physiology of Cucumis metuliferus Mey, a new crop plant. Journal of Horticultural Science 67(4): 489-493.
- Odhav B., Beekrum S., Akula U., Baijnath H. (2007). Preliminary assessment of nutritional value of traditional leafy vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 20(5): 430-435
- Wannang NN., Jimam NS., Gyang SS., Bukar BB., Gotom S. (2008). Effects of Cucumis metuliferus E Mey. Ex Naud (Cucurbitaceae) fruit extract on some male reproductive parameters in adult rats. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 2(3): 48-51