Notices for Users of the Albums

1. New Albums and some changes


The latest genera Albums added to the Operation Wildflower Site are the ones on Colophospermum, Brunia and Quaqua. This means that photos and stories of plants belonging to these genera already on the Site have been moved from the more general Albums called Trees, Shrubs and Succulents into their own new Albums under Genera. 


There is a genus Album in every case where enough material has been accumulated to warrant a stand-alone grouping of photos and stories. There are now more than 170 such Albums on genera of South African plants. The biggest ones (most photos) belong to the genera Crassula, Euphorbia, Pelargonium and Aloe. Keep watching, more will be added! If there is no genus Album yet on the plant you are looking for, check under Types or the Search Box.


In order to access all items on a plant of interest, the Search Box should be used, entering the botanical name of the plant. Most photos and stories on a particular plant are likely to be posted under Genera, (or if there are only few of them, in the conglomerate categories under Types). Habitat, Regions or Parks and Gardens may also contain some material on a species searched for, showing in the list generated when using the Search Box. The latest Regions Album is the one on the Limpopo Valley and the latest Parks and Gardens Album is on the Mapungubwe National Park.


2. Want to talk about an Album Item?


There is a new way of communicating with the Editor of this Site regarding any of the Album Items.
Comments, questions, corrections, information and suggestions can be put to the Editor by using the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Please ensure that the Album Item concerned is clearly identified. Type its exact title as well as the Album Name in the Subject Line of your email. Please also state your name.


Similarly, communication regarding the functioning or technical aspects of the Site can be directed to the Webmaster at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Citrullus lanatus

Botanical Name

Citrullus lanatus

Other names

Tsamma, wild watermelon; karkoer or tsamma (Afrikaans); makataan (Tswana); t'samma (Khoi)




A creeping annual herb with prostrate stems

Description of Stem

Multiple greenish grey, hairy stems of up to 3m in length; forked tendrils

Description of Leaves

Leaves occur on sturdy stalks, are conspicuously and ornately lobed around three prominent veins emanating from the leaf-base; hairy, rough to the touch on both surfaces

Description of flowers

Axillary flowers, light yellow, five-lobed corolla, greenish underneath; monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant)

Description of seed/fruit

Variable, usually spherical fruit of 20cm in diameter ripen in winter; pale yellow-green (in the Kalahari form), sometimes light green with longitudinal dark green markings on the surface (in the cultivated, makataan form); the flesh or fruit pulp contains multiple seeds

Description of roots



Variable over the wide areas of its appearance, increased by cultivation and selection

Propagation and Cultivation

Grown from seed in vegetable production




Edible fruit, sought after in dry areas for potable liquid by humans and animals; cultivars improved for human use have been developed in cultivation; seeds are dried, roasted, winnowed and ground to store as a sought after and nutritious meal; jam is made from some forms of the cultivated varieties; in Africa the seed is used to make a skin cream

Ecological rarity


Pests and Diseases

Humans may be able to survive for several weeks on tsamma alone in a desert environment




Sandy soil in grassland or bushveld; often in areas where the natural vegetation had been disturbed or cultivated


Northern Cape, Northwest, Limpopo


South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and northward in Africa

Visitor Numbers

This week8826
This month64890

Item of Interest