Achocha: The Unknown Cucumber Relative


| 4/5/2016 3:44:00 PM


Achocha or Caihua (pronounced kai-wa) is an unusual and relatively unknown member of the cucurbit or cucumber family with a difference. Although they share family roots with cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, zucchini and melons, they are almost completely immune to many of the diseases and pests that attack the other cucurbits – squash bugs, vine borers, cucumber worms and powdery mildew along with other fungal issues.

Achocha are hugely prolific both in leafy shade growth and fruit, making them a dual purpose plant for gardeners looking for a green shade or windbreak which gives a good supply of tasty food.

Originally domesticated in the Andes Mountains, the seeds travelled by trade from modern day Columbia in the north to Bolivia in the south. This ancient crop has been featured on pre-historic pottery and art and is discussed in the book Lost Crops of the Incas by the National Research Council. Today, they are widely grown all across Central and South America, as well as in many other parts of the world. For example, achocha is very popular in northern India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Achocha Seeds

The seeds are very intriguing, looking much like flecks of bark or burnt chunks of a rough plant material. The color ranges from a medium brown to an almost black. Each mature fruit will have several seeds in it.



Achocha Seeds on Finger





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