C is for Caigua

Caigua leaves look similar to pot.

Caigua leaves look similar to pot.

My garden buddy introduced me to the Caigua plant two years ago. The Caigua is primarily grown in South America and now Central America. It is a fast-growing vine that produces a hollow cucumber-like/pepper-like fruit. Zooming in on the picture shows the strong curly-q threads the plant puts out to attach to anything and everything.

The vine has hundreds of tiny flowers that will turn into the fruit. Bees love them.

The vine has hundreds of tiny flowers that will turn into the fruit. Bees love them.

I saved the seeds from the fruit and had 100 percent germination from one year to the next. So far then, we have a fast-growing, easy-to-germinate vine that the bees love and that produces a huge amount of food in one season. And it’s aesthetically cool-looking with the jagged, well-defined leaves that resemble the marijuana plant. That should appeal to everyone.

The plant is in the Cucurbitaceas family which as we know is in the same family as the cucumber. The fruit doesn’t have a strong taste. Its texture is similar to a thin-skinned mild pepper. We ate most of the Caigua raw, picked fresh from the vine. They make a good addition to salads, too. In Peru, Caigua are often made into a relleno-type dish, stuffed with rice or whatever is on hand.

Caigua is touted as a miracle food in relation to lowering blood cholesterol. While primarily grown for its food now, historically Caigua was used medicinally for weight loss and heart disease.

The seeds are large, black, square things in the middle of the pod. They resemble jigsaw puzzle pieces. Take them out and save them to direct seed into the spring soil. Do you have a place where they could climb? Think morning glory speed and beauty. I have seeds if anyone is interested.

Caigua seeds are the easiest seeds to save.

Caigua seeds are the easiest seeds to save.

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About master kindergardener

Santa Clara County Master Gardener since 2007, Mom since 2009, Gardener since birth.
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