What’s the difference between seedless and seeded watermelons? It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out: One contains hard, black seeds, while the other doesn’t. However, a seedless watermelon isn’t really seedless at all—here’s what you need to know:
Seedless vs. Seeded Watermelon
Seeded, or traditional, watermelon is native to West Africa and has been around for at least a few thousand years. In fact, watermelon seeds were even found in King Tut’s tomb.
Traditional watermelons have thick green rinds, pink flesh, and black seeds. These seeds are fertile, which means you could plant them and grow watermelons of your own.
Seedless watermelons, on the other hand, were invented about 50 years ago, when scientists discovered that crossing a diploid plant (which has two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (which has four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit that produces a triploid seed (which has three sets of chromosomes), according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Since seedless watermelons have 33 chromosomes instead of 22, their seeds cannot reproduce. So seedless watermelons do have seeds—they’re just soft, white, and flexible.
Are Seedless Watermelons Genetically Modified?
WATCH: How to Cut a Watermelon
There’s a lot of scientific manipulation going on here—does that mean seedless watermelons are genetically modified? Absolutely not.
Genetic modification is the process of altering the genetic makeup of an organism. The seedless watermelon is crossbred, which means it’s the offspring of two parents. Nobody is toying with the fruit’s genes directly, so it is not genetically modified.
Do They Taste Different?
Seedless watermelons are more likely to win in a taste test, Todd Wehner of N.C. State's horticultural science department, told NPR in 2012.
Since they have three sets of genes instead of two, the genes that affect sweetness, flavor, and texture are more likely to be expressed.
If all this watermelon talk has your mouth watering, we’ve got you covered:
Hungry for more? Check out 27 more of our favorite watermelon recipes here.