Each year I try to grow something a little bit unusual that's also edible and this year it was the turn of this weird fruit, the African horned melon Cucumis metuliferus. The plant resembled a small-leaved melon that rambled across the greenhouse staging, producing numerous small unisexual yellow flowers. Whenever a female flower appeared I carefully pollinated it but none seemed to be setting any fruit. It was only when I had given up and was about to throw the plant away that I parted the leaves and found this fruit, about 12cm. long and looking like something from another planet, revealing that one pollination had been successful. It looks like a vegetable version of a medieval mace and would probably make a good weapon, because those spines on the tips of the horns are very hard and sharp.
So, what does it taste like? Rather like cucumber, but with lemon juice added - quite refreshing - but the texture is strange. Each seed is surrounded by a semi-solid gelatinous coating and in the mouth it feels rather like eating frog spawn (not that I've actually eaten frog spawn, but this is what it must be like). Definitely an acquired taste. I spat out the seeds and will sow some next year, to see if it's any better second time around.
The plant is a native of Africa, although I gather that it's now cultivated in several countries and is known as kiwano on the US West Coast.