The science behind this strange looking watermelon may surprise you.
At first glance, it looks like someone has taken a lot of time to carve a strangely intricate pattern on the inside of this watermelon. In reality, what's happened to this watermelon is a natural condition called "hollow heart." That's right. This piece of fruit literally looked exactly like that when it was cut open.
"Hollow heart" develops when there is poor pollination during the growth process that creates cracks inside of the watermelon.
University of Delaware researcher Gordon Johnson explains the science behind "hollow heart" in detail:
"In the past, the cause for hollow heart was thought to be related to rapid growth of the fruit where the rind expanded faster than the internal flesh leading to separation of the three internal fruit compartments and an open area between. Excess nitrogen and over-watering along with favorable growing conditions were implicated in higher incidence of hollow heart.
There is growing evidence that hollow heart is not directly tied to nitrogen and water management but is related to pollination and weather conditions during pollination. Plant hormones are thought to be important in this effect. Several researchers have found no increase in hollow heart with increases in nitrogen; even in varieties know to have hollow heart problems. It is thought that with inadequate pollination, there is reduced release of the plant hormone that controls the development of storage tissue leading to hollow heart."
Although the sight might be alarming when the melon is first cut open, the affected fruit is still entirely safe to eat.
So next time you're carving a watermelon for your summer picnic, don't be afraid if you see this crazy pattern on the inside. It's just science working its natural magic.
This post was originally published on May 3, 2015.