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Casabanana. (E. Sarmiento G.)

tolerate more cold than other cucurbits. It grows at 2,600 m elevation near Bogotá.

Casabanana. Another cucurbit, this species (Sicana odorifera) is found growing around houses in the foothills and lowlands of the Andes. A fascinating and useful plant, its fruits look like long, cylindrical, red-colored squashes. They are edible only when young, at which time they can be eaten both raw and cooked. It is the mature fruits, however, that are most prized. Although inedible, they exude a strong, pleasant fragrance reminiscent of a blend of ripe melon and peach. They are used as air fresheners to perfume kitchens, closets, clothes, and Christmas crèches. In Nicaragua, they are used to flavor frescos, especially a drink known as “cojombro.

The casabanana is known only in cultivation (or as an escape from cultivation); its origins are therefore uncertain. It is probably not of Andean origin, although it was originally described from Peru. It may have been brought from the eastern part of South America—Paraguay or Brazil perhaps.

The plant is well known in Mexico and Central America and has been introduced, as a curiosity mostly, to France and possibly to other European countries. 12 The young fruits are eaten cooked in soups, but

12 In Spanish it goes by many common names, including secana (Peru), pavi (Bolivia), cagua (Colombia), pepino de olor, melocotón, and melón calabaza.

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