Chilacayote

Chilacayote (aka perennial squash, aka Malabar Gourd) is a vine which produces watermelon-sized fruits (only if you let it—they can be harvested quite small). There’s a reference here and although a bit on the technical side (I assume you don’t really care to know that the male flowers are pedicillate with a campanulate calyx), it does have some cultivation and uses information.

I first grew chilacayote a couple of years ago and wasn’t overly impressed with the yield of fruit, it being one of those annoying curcurbits that need both male and female flowers open simultaneously to produce fruit.  I had trouble keeping the water up to it in summer and the huge dinner-plate leaves would wilt alarmingly on hot days. I’d read, and seen photos, of it’s capacity to take over an entire suburb, but it didn’t seem to want to do that here.

Going through my seed bank late last year I found a few remaining seeds and thought I would give it one last try. I planted three plants in a group in late summer, in a shady spot this time and watered them occasionally. It was a sort of, live-if-you-want-to…if-you-don’t-I-don’t-care, scenario.

Somehow they lived, took off, started scrambling through all and sundry, over and under shrubs and trees. I was so fascinated, I let them do it. They started flowering a month ago, a few sporadic female flowers and I thought, ho-hum, typical, no males, and then suddenly the blokes came from everywhere. There are now small fruits all over the place, on the ground and hanging from shrubs.

My first thought was, it’ll be useful for stir-fries. I’ve also found a recipe for chilacayote and ginger marmalade. And I’ll let a couple grow into monsters to get some more seed. That is, if it doesn’t take over the suburb first!

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3 Responses to “Chilacayote”

  1. maidenfarmer Says:

    Hi there – curious to know how they turned out and if you managed to save any seed?
    Would like to find some seed myself and would be happy to swap ( I have a big seed bank with just about anything in it)
    Bit of a long shot I guess this is a post that is a few years old now
    Gotta love google
    Cheers, Carole

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  2. maidenfarmer Says:

    Hi there
    Wondering how this all turned out and if you saved some seeds? Would love to try some here- bit colder but worth a go
    Do you have seeds to swap?
    Info@quatre-saisons.com.au
    Cheers , Carole

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Carole, no sorry I don’t have any seeds. I kept one fruit and allowed it to go to maturity, but when I broke it open the seeds weren’t mature. They were white and shrunken, whereas mature seeds are black and plump.

      I bought the original seed from Edens and they’ve never had it for sale again.

      I don’t think I would bother growing it again anyway, because it takes up a lot of room and nutrients for very little return.

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