Cyclanthera pedata, Achocha, stuffing cucumber
Cyclanthera pedata seeds
Cyclanthera pedata belongs to the Curcurbitaceae. It is also known as Achocha or stuffing cucumber. C. pedata is native to the southamerican Andes, Centralamerica, Mexico and Argentina. C. pedata is an annual climbing plant but for some reasons it can also be perennial. It reaches a height of about 5 to 6 m. The leaves are palmate and can get 19 to 24 cm big. If one cracks a leaf from the shoot one smells a cucumber like odor. The flowers are small, greenish, white or yellow. The female flowers stand solitary, the male ones in groups. The fruits can be eaten. They look just like lady slippers, because of that they have this as a nickname. The fruits can be eaten raw and taste just like cucumber. They should be eaten when they have reached a size of about 2 cm. In this stadium there are no seeds in the pulp. Some people do not like the seeds although they are eatable, too. The fruit can get 15 cm long and has thin thorns on her surface. The black seeds lay in the white pulp. Sometimes the fruits are nearly empty and can be filled with different stuff for cooking. In Peru one knows many receipts with C. pedata. C. pedata is said to lower the cholesterol level.
C. pedata is a climbing plant; therefore it needs a gadget where it can climb to the top. For germination C. pedata needs a temperature from about 20°C. At this temperature germination occurs after 2 to 4 weeks. The substrate should be moist but not wet. After the last frost C. pedata can also be put outside.