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Plant Informational Database

Malabar Gourd

Cucurbita ficifolia

a.k.a. Fig Leaf Gourd, Chilacayote, Seven Year Melon, Asian Pumpkin, Pie Melon

A fairly large, oblong fruit and a member of the melon family. Fruits look a bit like a speckled watermelon and are quite popular in Latin America.

Seed Availability

Seeds are not available for the Malabar Gourd. Please visit our seed store to view current selections. Seeds were last available in February 2016.

Description

A climbing, annual or perennial vine that is vigorous in growth habit up to a few dozen feet. In frost free climates it can overwinter and produce for multiple years. Flowers are monoecious, but both male and female flowers are born separately on single plants, so only one plant is required to produce fruit. Fruits are oblong in shape and can grow up to 6-9" and weigh up to 10-15 pounds. A single plant is said to be able to produce up to 50 fruits. The fruits are noteworthy for their long storage life. Once mature fruits develop a hard rind that lends itself to extended storage.

Hardiness

Not frost hardy. Can be grown as an annual in long summer season climates.

Growing Environment

Quite easy to grow. Growing requirements are similar to standard melons. The vines need regular water, full sun and room for growth. They will climb, but are easily grown as ground trailing plants. The plant seems to show more tolerance to disease than many standard melons and has subsequently been used as a rootstock in some areas.

Propagation

Exclusively by seeds.

Uses

Mature fruits have a sweet flavor and are used in desserts and beverages. Immature fruits can be cooked as a vegetable. Both the flowers and young shoots are eaten as leafy greens. The protein rich seeds are also eaten and are used to make palanquetas, a Mexican confection.

Native Range

Native to the Americas, though the exact range is unknown. Today it is spread through much of tropical America and is popularly cultivated from Mexico through Argentina.

Additional Pictures

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Related Species

Cucurbitaceae  
Cucumis metuliferus
Horned Melon
Cucumis zeyheri
South African Spiny Cucumber
Cucurbita ficifolia
Malabar Gourd
Cucurbita pepo
Spaghetti Squash
Cyclanthera explodens
Exploding Cucumber
Kedrostis leloja
Kedrostis leloja
Luffa cylindrica
Luffa
Sicana odorifera
Cassabanana