Malabar gourd (Cucurbita ficifolia)

Malabar gourd (Cucurbita ficifolia)
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Cucurbita ficifolia is an annual vine or trailing plant grown at high altitudes for its edible seeds, fruit, and greens. English names for the plant include chilacayote, fig-leaved gourd, malabar gourd, Thai marrow, shark fin melon, chiverre, or pie melon. In Spanish it is known as cidra or sambo. It shows considerable biochemical difference from the other members of its genus, and does not hybridize readily with them.

It is native to the Americas mexico, although the exact center of domestication is unclear. Linguistic evidence suggests Mexico, because of the wide use of Nahuatl-derived names as far south as Argentina, while archaeological evidence suggests Peru, because the earliest remains have been found there. Biosystematics have been unable to confirm either hypothesis.[citation needed]

It is now grown in many parts of Eurasia, from France to India to Japan.

The most important use of Cucurbita ficifolia is for its fat- and protein-rich seeds. They are used along with honey to make palanquetas, a dessert.

The second most important use is for its fruit. The immature fruit is cooked as a vegetable, while the mature fruit is sweet, and used to make confectionery and beverages, sometimes alcoholic. The fruit has a low beta-carotene content, as can be seen from its white flesh. It has a moderate content of carbohydrates, and a relatively low content of vitamins and minerals.