Why are the Chinese names of certain vegetables based of off directions (North, South, East, West?)

Also, why does a specific direction mean a certain vegetable? (I.e do watermelons come from the West?)

There must be a historical significance of these names. direction and vegetables

  • It is 冬瓜 (winter melon), there's no such thing as 东瓜
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:08

2 Answers 2


The names of 西瓜 and 南瓜 seem to be relevant to the directions.


It is said that 西瓜 was introduce from 西域 (the Western regions, a Han Dynasty term for the area west of Yumenguan 玉门关, including what is now 新疆 and parts of Central Asia), then was named as 西瓜.




南瓜 is supposed to be introduced from the south, then got the name 南瓜.

BTW: 冬瓜 is not "东瓜",



冬瓜's name came from the appearance and color of its peel, which looks like the hoar frost in the winter.

  • 東瓜 does exist! I found this interesting site dahu0985030569.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/…
    – udidosa
    Jul 23, 2017 at 16:07
  • 北瓜 exists it seems. I don't understand much of what the writer is saying,but dahu0985030569.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/…
    – udidosa
    Jul 23, 2017 at 16:08
  • 1
    @Urvil Basically 东瓜 is a wrong usage, especially when it's used with the same meaning of 冬瓜. 北瓜 does exist in some areas, but it's not a uniform name and doesn't have uniform meaning (as 西瓜 and 南瓜). Maybe there're just not 瓜 produced from the north and east and being accepted widely. Then 东西南北瓜 looks nothing more than a strained statement.
    – user4072
    Jul 24, 2017 at 5:10

because our country is 中国.it means the country which is the center of the world.so if you are in the center then the things came from other place they must came from east or west or north.so we named them by the direction they came from.and we do have 北瓜 although I just heard it from my grandma and I dont know what it exactly is

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.