Oh boy this is a good one. I remember when I was growing up, my Grandpa used to tell me, “If you swallow a watermelon seed it will sprout out of your ears!” lol Well needless to say I never grew any watermelon vines out of my ears, but it had me worried for a while…until I realized it was just a joke. I’ve also heard some people state that swallowing watermelon seeds will lead to growing a watermelon in your stomach. So is there any truth to this?
Growing a watermelon in your stomach due to swallowing a seed is botanically impossible. Before the first leaves are grown from a sprouting seed, it must first get all its energy from aerobic respiration. There just simply isn’t enough oxygen in our gastrointestinal tract for germination to occur. Not only that, but the stomach is full of seed-killing hydrochloric acid.
Why is the Watermelon in Stomach Myth Popular?
Like all good myths and stories, there must be a bizarre imaginative perspective attached. The thought of something as large as a watermelon growing in your stomach makes this myth especially gruesome. Plus the small slippery seeds are easily swallowed if you do not take special care to sift through them while eating this luscious fruit. This line of thought is probably what has blossomed this myth over the years, as they say a good myth always has some bit of truth to it, no matter how big or small.
Is it Safe to Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon seeds are quite safe to eat, contrary to the belief that they will sprout in your stomach. Here in the western part of the world I suppose some people do eat them intentionally, but it’s not a common delicacy. This also adds a little exoticism to the idea of accidentally swallowing one. However there are parts of the world that consume watermelon seeds and are considered a common food.
Watermelon seeds are very high in protein and are eaten regularly by the Chinese. Watermelon seeds are roasted up and snacked on by them like peanuts. In Nigeria they actually make a soup out of them. While in Vietnam, you will find watermelon seeds that were dyed bright red and served as a traditional New Year’s snack!
So obviously this debunks the myth that you will grow a watermelon in your stomach if you swallow a seed.
I actually found a page that had some great recipes for tasty watermelon seed snacks. But first, read on, because we are going to discuss some actual real life cases of thing sprouting inside the human body.
But we must always be careful of what we put in our bodies, there are some plants that have extremely dangerous properties that may be deadly if ingested. Some of these are super scary, and have even been used for carrying out assassinations through out history. My post Killer Plants and their Side Effects covers some of these deadly pieces of nature, it’s an interesting read.
Dr. Gordon Rogers Explains
A watermelon horticulture expert, Dr. Gordon Rogers from Sydney, states “The whole purpose of the watermelon fruit is for seed dispersal. They’re designed to pass through the animal’s gastrointestinal tract intact.” So basically a seed will not be able to spout while in the digestive system. It is designed to sprout after it has been dispersed through the system and hits the ground as poop. Sorry, I know that’s a little gross, but it’s just nature. The reason for this is so animal species can carry the seeds over great distances to be replanted only after leaving their droppings. It’s nature’s way of spreading the love and re-planting that which has been consumed.
Cases of Sprouting Seeds in the Human Body
Ok, so now that we’ve covered all this thus far, you may be asking, “What about that story I heard about a seed sprouting inside someone?” Well, there have been some documented cases of such things happening, but it was not in the stomach where the sprouting took place.
These types of cases stem from seeds that were actually inhaled into the trachea or lungs, not swallowed into the stomach. The bronchi and lungs are very rich in oxygen and are also acid free. This type of breeding ground can allow for a seeds life to thrive.
There was a case from the Ural Russian city of Izhevsk, where Artyom Sidorki went to the doctor because he was coughing up blood. The doctors sent him for a biopsy thinking he may have lung cancer. But instead of finding cancer, they actually found a two-inch fir tree growing inside his left lung! Now if that doesn’t give you the chills than I don’t know what would. Evidently he had inhaled the seed at some point unknowingly and it began growing in his lung.
Another report talks about a young child that had inhaled a watermelon seed that became lodged in one of her bronchi. The seed didn’t sprout into a full grown watermelon, thank goodness, but it had made an attempt to grow before it naturally aborted.
Wrapping Up the Watermelon in the Stomach Myth
So I hope this helps answer the question of whether or not it’s possible to grow a watermelon in your stomach if you swallow a seed. If any of you grew up with a grandpa as funny and mischievous as mine was, then that’s probably why you’re reading this today lol. But rest assured, if you accidentally swallow that seed while enjoying some cold, sweet watermelon, you will not wake up in the morning with a watermelon in your stomach!