VERY RARE Heirloom Organic Cassabanana Seeds (2)
Sicana odorifera Naud.
Cucurbita odorifera Vell.A handsome and interesting member of the Cucurbitaceae, the cassabanana, Sicana odorifera Naud. (syn. Cucurbita odorifera Vell.), is also called sikana or musk cucumber. It is known as melocotonero, calabaza de olor, calabaza melón, pérsico or alberchigo in Mexico; melocotón or melón de olor in El Salvador and Guatemala; calabaza de chila in Costa Rica; cojombro in Nicaragua; chila in Panama; pavi in Bolivia; padea, olerero, secana or upe in Peru; calabaza de Paraguay, curuba, or pepino melocoton in Colombia; cura, coróa, curua, curuba, cruatina, melão caboclo or melão macã in Brazil; cajú cajuba, cajua, cagua, calabaza de Guinea in Venezuela; pepino, pepino angolo or pepino socato in Puerto Rico; cohombro in Cuba.
Fig. 118: The cassabanana (Sicana odorifera Naud.)
The vine is perennial, herbaceous, fast-growing, heavy, requiring a strong trellis; climbing trees to 50 ft (15 m) or more by means of 4-parted tendrils equipped with adhesive discs that can adhere tightly to the smoothest surface. Young stems are hairy. The leaves are gray-hairy, rounded-cordate or rounded kidney-shaped, to 1 ft (30 cm) wide, deeply indented at the base, 3-lobed, with wavy or toothed margins, on petioles 1 1/2 to 4 3/4 in (4-12 cm) long. Flowers are white or yellow, urn-shaped, 5-lobed, solitary, the male 3/4 in (2 cm) long, the female about 2 in (5 cm) long. Renowned for its strong, sweet, agreeable, melon-like odor, the striking fruit is ellipsoid or nearly cylindrical, sometimes slightly curved; 12 to 24 in (30-60 cm) in length, 2 3/4 to 4 1/2 in (7-11.25 cm) thick, hard-shelled, orange-red, maroon, dark-purple with tinges of violet, or entirely jet-black; smooth and glossy when ripe, with firm, orange-yellow or yellow, cantaloupe-like, tough, juicy flesh, 3/4 in (2 cm) thick. In the central cavity, there is softer pulp, a soft, fleshy core, and numerous flat, oval seeds, 5/8 in (16 mm) long and 1/4 in (6 mm) wide, light-brown bordered with a dark-brown stripe, in tightly-packed rows extending the entire length of the fruit.
Origin and Distribution
The cassabanana is believed native to Brazil but it has been spread throughout tropical America. Historians have evidence that it was cultivated in Ecuador in pre-Hispanic times. It was first mentioned by European writers in 1658 as cultivated and popular in Peru. It is grown near sea-level in Central America but the fruit is carried to markets even up in the highlands. Venezuelans and Brazilians are partial to the vine as an ornamental, but in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico it is grown for the usefulness of the fruit.
In 1903, O.F. Cook saw one fruit in a market in Washington, D.C. The United States Department of Agriculture received seeds from C.A. Miller, the American Consul in Tampico, Mexico, in 1913 (S.P.I. #35136). H.M. Curran collected seeds in Brazil in 1915 (S.P.I. #41665). Wilson Popenoe introduced seeds from Guatemala in 1916 (S.P.I. #43427). The author brought seeds from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, to the Agricultural Research and Education Center, Homestead, in 1951. A resulting vine grew to large size but produced a single 2 ft (60 cm) fruit. Dr. John Thieret, formerly Professor of Botany at Southwestern Louisiana University, says that the Cajuns in the southern part of that state grow the cassabanana for making preserves. Verrill stated in 1937, "The fruit is now on sale in New York markets."
The cassabanana fruit doesn’t look, smell or taste like a banana, and your guess is as good as anyone else’s about how it got its common name. It looks like an off-color cucumber and tastes like a melon, a sweet delicious fruit well worth growing in your garden. Read on for more cassabanana information.
Cassabanana Plant History
The cassabanana (Sicana odorifera), also known as Melocoton, is native to Brazil, and most of these heirloom plants are cultivated in Central and South America and the Caribbean. What do all these locations have in common? A warm climate, yes, but even more important, a very long growing season.
Historians claim that the fruit was cultivated in Ecuador even before the Spanish arrived there. Europeans mentioned it in writings by 1658. Some peoples — including Venezuelans and Brazilians — grow it as ornamental, while others – Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans – grow it for the fruit.
According to Burkill, the vine was tried in the Botanic Gardens in Singapore but lived for only a short time. Wester wrote that it fruited at Lamao in the Philippines in 1916 and became heavily attacked by a destructive fly (Dacus sp.).
Plate LXVIII: CASSABANANA, Sicana odoriferaCulture
Fenzi says that the cassabanana is grown from seeds or cuttings. A high temperature during the fruiting season is needed to assure perfect ripening. Brazilians train the vine to grow over arbors or they may plant it close to a tree. However, if it is allowed to climb too high up the tree there is the risk that it may smother and kill it.
Keeping Quality and Marketing
The cassabanana remains in good condition for several months if kept dry and out of the sun.
The fruit has high market value in Puerto Rico. It is cut up and sold by the piece, the price being determined by weight.
The ripe flesh, sliced thin, is eaten raw, especially in the summer when it is appreciated as cooling and refreshing. However, it is mainly used in the kitchen for making jam or other preserves. The immature fruit is cooked as a vegetable or in soup and stews.
Fruit: People like to keep the fruit around the house, and especially in linen- and clothes-closets, because of its long-lasting fragrance, and they believe that it repels moths. It is also placed on church altars during Holy Week.
Medicinal Uses: In Puerto Rico, the flesh is cut up and steeped in water, with added sugar, overnight at room temperature so that it will ferment slightly. The resultant liquor is sipped frequently and strips of the flesh are eaten, too, to relieve sore throat. It is believed beneficial also to, at the same time, wear a necklace of the seeds around the neck.
The seed infusion is taken in Brazil as a febrifuge, vermifuge, purgative and emmenagogue. The leaves are employed in treating uterine hemorrhages and venereal diseases. In Yucatan, a decoction of leaves and flowers (2 g in 180cc water) is prescribed as a laxative, emmenagogue and vermifuge, with a warning not to make a stronger preparation inasmuch as the seeds and flowers yield a certain amount of hydrocyanic
If you have some space outside, a long, warm growing season, and a hankering for new fruit, cassabanana is the plant for you. Producing long, ornamental vines and huge, sweet, fragrant fruit, it’s a great addition to your garden and an interesting conversation piece. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow cassabanana plants. What is Cassabanana? The cassabanana (Sicana odorifera) is not, as the name suggests, a banana. It’s actually a type of gourd. The fruit, however, is very similar to a melon. Cassabanana fruits grow to about 2 feet (60 cm) long and 5 inches (13 cm) thick and are nearly perfect, sometimes curved, cylinders. The skin can be red, maroon, purple, or even black, and is thick enough that it has to be hacked open with a machete. Inside, however, the yellow flesh is very similar in taste and texture to that of a cantaloupe. The smell, which is very strong even before the fruit has been cut, is sweet and pleasant. Interestingly, it is often placed in closets and around houses as an air sweetener and moth deterrent.