(Citrullus vulgaris) There have been some strange uses for the plant. The Arabs, for example, used the ripe fruit, charred in the fire and pulverized, to prepare gunpowder, tinder and fuses. Similarly, in Egypt, the green fruit was crushed on a piece of fabric, which absorbed the juice, and when dried it acted like tinder (Dalziel). Equally odd is the practice in Morocco of a young man who wants his beard to grow to rub his skin with a piece of water melon, for the juice was thought to produce the desired effect (Westermarck).
But eat water melon rinds for a smooth complexion is the maxim in Alabama (R B Browne).
Water melons are an ingredient in American domestic medicines, particularly for fevers (Beck). A tea made from the seeds is also said to be good for high blood pressure (R B Browne); so it is for newborn babies whose kidneys have failed to act, according to Alabama belief. In these circumstances, a tea should be made of a handful of seeds and a pint of water. The baby should be fed a spoonful frequently, until results are obtained (R B Browne). The rind and pulp are used in China and Japan to treat jaundice and diabetes. The pulp relieves sore throat or a sore mouth (Perry & Metzger).
There are some pieces of advice about planting water melons from the southern states of America. They should be planted on the 1st of May, before sunrise, for good luck (R B Browne), and by poking the seed in the ground with the fingers (Puckett), or, according to Kentucky wisdom, in your night clothes, before sunrise; then the insects will never attack them. Carry the seed out in a wash tub. Then the melons will grow as large as the tub (Thomas & Thomas).
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