The tsamma occurs mainly in the Kalahari desert, but also in Botswana, the Northern Transvaal, and the North West Province.
1886G.A. FariniThrough Kalahari DesertHere also we came across the first sama I had seen. This plant is invaluable to both man and beast on the desert. It is the ‘wild water melon,’..and serves both as food and drink for human beings as well as cattle and horses, its fleshy body contains a quantity of watery juice, and its seeds a considerable proportion of oil. It yields two crops in the year...The ripened fruit will lie for a year without decaying, provided there is not rain.
1898G. Nicholson50 Yrs 92These melons are called by the natives ‘tsamma,’ and are about the size of a round Dutch cheese. The flavour is insipid, and the water which the traveller obtains from them by cutting them up and simmering them in a pot over a slow fire is rather flat, but sweet and wholesome.
1898G. Nicholson50 Yrs 93The ‘Thirst Land’..is known to have been occasionally (in tsamma season) traversed by native hunting parties.
1915W. EveleighS.W. Afr. 67That typical product of the Kalahari desert, the tsama melon Citrullus vulgaris, is found. Both man and beast rejoice in this juicy melon. In its raw state it has remarkable thirst-quenching properties, and when cooked it is a satisfying food. The seeds are oily and very fattening.
[1937H. KleinStage Coach Dust 150Desert treasure: wild water melons, worth their weight in gold, called by the natives t’sama. These melons grow in the desert after a rainy season and store precious water.]
1941A.G. BeeKalahari Camp Fires (1943) 129Millions of wild melons (samas) scattered over the veld.
1945L.G. GreenWhere Men Still Dream 173All the animals, from the elephant and lion down to the desert mice, flourish on the speckled green melon. T’samma, roasted in the camp fire and then cooled, quenches the Bushman’s thirst.
1961L.E. Van OnselenTrekboer 117The tsamma is the most important vegetable growth. This melon-like, watery squash is the desert’s gift to the thirsty traveller. Stock can be maintained on its fleshy pulp in severe droughts.
1977Family Radio & TV 6 June 18In the Kalahari Desert..I show viewers how a tsamma melon, growing in profusion, is cut open and the juice squeezed out. It’s like a miniature waterfall.
1985Custos Sept. 8A tsamma is a trailing plant, the fruit of which looks like a watermelon and is the size of a spanspek...Bushman hunters..depend largely on tsammas for their water needs. By cutting the tsamma in half and slicing the fleshy part in thin shreds they squeeze enough water out to fulful their needs.
1989Personality 6 Feb. 46The tsamma melon is bitter to taste but it supplies essential moisture for animals in the desert.
1992Getaway Apr. 41The tsamma, 90 per cent of which consists of water, has thick walls which trap the moisture inside and last throughout the dry season.
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