• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Perennial Pumpkin - Cucurbita ficifolia

 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Pie
Posts: 8555
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
548
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems to go by several names - Malabar Gourd, Fig-Leaf Gourd, Perennial Pumpkin, Chilacayote, pie melon, shark fin melon, gila. 

 


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucurbita_ficifolia

You can eat the fruit young like courgette/zuccini, or mature.  It has a really hard skin and keeps for two years.  You can eat the seeds, the young stems and possibly even the leaves.  And although frost will make it die back, it will regrow from the roots unless you have a hard freeze.  Apparently.  I spent ages locating a source for seed, and then discovered that it's grown here in Portugal by the name of 'Gila' and promptly found some for sale at the local market, tucked away near the 'ordinary' pumpkins.  The flesh is white and not very flavourful and can be used in either sweet or savoury dishes.  It's a different species to most other pumpkins/squash and doesn't readily hybridise so it should be 'safe' to grow near other types without worrying too much about them cross pollinating.  I've heard rumours of 50 fruit per vine.

So has anybody actually tried to grow it?  I've nibbled at a few of the seeds and they do seem edible, but I'm reluctant to try too many as I want to plant them.  The old man happily ate some of the fruit stewed up with apple, and it was also ok stir-fried with pork mince and other veggies.  Does anyone know if the shoots and leaves are worth eating?  How long do the plants live for?  I've heard 'perennial' but I've no idea if that means three years or thirty...
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Unhappy information here :  "C. ficifolia is a creeping or climbing plant, monoecious, annual although persistent for a certain period, giving the impression of being a short-lived perennial "

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0646e/T0646E0a.htm

Looks like it can not be counted on to be perennial.   
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
that counts me out, we drop to much under - 20 F each winter..
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm intrigued. I found some seeds and have ordered them. However, winters are probably too cold here to allow it to persist beyond fall, but I can try heavy mulching it to see if it will survive.
 
Brian Bales
Posts: 90
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It gets cold enough to frost here but never lower than 25 degrees. Even as a short lived perennial it might be worth some experimenting. I'm especially intrested in its potential use as a fodder crop.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had this is a small suburban backyard in subtropical climate. After this plant overran our neighbours big shed the whole fence and didn't had much fruit at all I ripped it out.
I was told then that you eat the fruit while small, because there are not many things you can do when they are ripe. They don't really taste of much.
The advantage  is that it#s a great producer of organic matter.
Apparently Mexican make something sweet with it, I've never tried it didn't look very appetizing to me.
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ediblecities wrote:
I had this is a small suburban backyard in subtropical climate. After this plant overran our neighbours big shed the whole fence and didn't had much fruit at all I ripped it out.
I was told then that you eat the fruit while small, because there are not many things you can do when they are ripe. They don't really taste of much.
The advantage  is that it#s a great producer of organic matter.
Apparently Mexican make something sweet with it, I've never tried it didn't look very appetizing to me.


So this is something of a vine Godzilla? Last year when I was growing squashes, I had them running marathons 'til someone ran over them with a lawn mower. 
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Pie
Posts: 8555
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
548
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well I'm going to plant some in various places and see how it gets on with our dry summers.  I'm fascinated with the idea of it "giving the impression of being a short-lived perennial".  Walk like a duck, quack like a duck, and all that.  But then, maybe it quacks like a muscovy.  If it grows and fruits at all I'll be happy.  If I can get edible shoots while it's growing, it will be a double whammy.  If I get loads of long-storage fruits to feed the chickens and be emergency rations for the rest of us, so much the better.  And if by chance it does happen to survive for a few years, it will mean I concentrate on growing other stuff and leave this to take care of itself.

I'll keep you all informed how I get on.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anyone know of a source of seeds?  I think I could keep it going here.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks, Ludi, but I need USA suppliers.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I couldn't find any! 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I couldn't, either, but it seems you a better searcher than me!

Thanks, Ludi, you're a champ!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My pleasure! 
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've placed many an order from Tradewinds.

Alway good seeds and pretty damn quick to get them to you.

Also the only place I could find Inga edulis seeds. They come all ready sprouted and ready to pot up.

Good vendor.
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
PapaBear wrote:
It gets cold enough to frost here but never lower than 25 degrees. Even as a short lived perennial it might be worth some experimenting. I'm especially intrested in its potential use as a fodder crop.

I grow this vine.
It needs to climb a tree to be productive.
It is eaten by pigs & foul, but sheep and cows don't realy like it.
The seeds can be extracted by hand but wear gloves because the flesh is acidic and will burn your fingers.
The best way I've found to get the seeds out is to poke with a nail then inject yeast and put in a warm place for 2 weeks. Then simpley place in a bucket smash, remove shell and rinse the seeds. the seed husk will be thinner now and more edible.

 
Saskia Symens
Posts: 120
1
books forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So Burra, how are they coming? Any signs of fruit yet?
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Pie
Posts: 8555
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
548
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They did really well actually! 

We planted a few in a 'new' patch of ground, which is the thinnest, poorest, most nutrient and humus deficient bit of soil you can imagine.  We planted a few different types of pumpkin including gila, butternut, spaghetti squash, patty pan and green striped cushaw and they all did remarkably well, except for the patty pan which struggled a bit.  I gave each plant the biggest dollop of compost I could spare (which wasn't a huge amount), mulched it as generously as I could (ie - not very...) and also put a ring of pelleted pig manure (I can buy that so they had a reasonable amount) around each plant in a desperate attempt to provide some ready nutrients.

This is what one of the Gilas looked like at the beginning of July, when the temperatures really started to rise and some of the leaves started to die in the sun.



The gilas in particular gave a surprisingly good crop.  The fruit were smaller than the 'parents' which I'd bought in the local market, but they tasted just the same.  Maybe next year, if the plants survive the winter, the soil will be in better condition and the fruits might get a bit bigger.

By the end of July, this is what had happened...



The fruit had faded in the sun (well it is a bit strong...) and the original stems and leaves dried out and died back.  The spaghetti squash had died back completely, but Gila is supposed to have a really strong root system and it seems to have withdrawn support from the aerial parts that have done their job and used it's extensive root system to have another go at producing fresh leaves.  Each of the Gilas, and none of the other cucurbitas, produced a flush of new leaves after the fruits had ripened.  I'm not sure it was triggered by the ripening of the fruit, or the rising temperatures, or if it was a reaction to water-stress, but it does seem to confirm that the root system is good enough to keep finding water and the plant does seem inclined to 'regenerate'. 

It reminds a bit of Sepp Holzers 'shock' tactics.

I'll report back in the spring on how well the gila stored and whether or not any of the plants survived the winter.  I may be some time...
 
Saskia Symens
Posts: 120
1
books forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great! Thx for sharing. Sounds like a survivor. I might want to try this (am aiming for a no maintenance garden  )
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yeah keep us updated on this one I'm quite interested although we are very cold here in winter..
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8839
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now Tradewinds doesn't carry those seeds anymore.    Maybe they are merely out of stock for this year....That'll teach me to not order a thing as soon as I find it! 
 
Loren Luyendyk
Posts: 12
Location: Santa Barbara. Ca
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is this also known as Zambo Grande?  Introduced by Jerome Black and Oregon Exotics many years ago from latin america.

I grew it for a few years but haven't in a while.  The vines lived for two years, so I would call it a biennial.  The fruits are really tough and last several years as well.  Supposedly the seeds are the most nutritious of all the squashes.  Hard to removed unless you use the method outlined above. 

The Mexicans mix the flesh with milk, cinnamon, and sugar for a desert.  On its own it tastes like a cross between spaghetti squash and cucumber.  I never ate the seeds as I gave them all away 


 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a big crop of them this year. The tender ones less than 2 lb are great in bread or pan cakes. Also good in soup.
  They all start to flower at the same time, no matter how big the vine is. This leads me to belive that they are day length sensitive. The  male  flowers are also great and there are new ones every day.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
H Ludi Tyler wrote:Now Tradewinds doesn't carry those seeds anymore.    Maybe they are merely out of stock for this year....That'll teach me to not order a thing as soon as I find it! 



Anyone else have these for sale? I'm looking to use them to graft watermelons onto as they apparently tolerate cool soils. Otherwise I'm going to be stuck using some bottle gourd root stock.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 340
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Burra Maluca,

Being from Portugal I know the "gila" pumpkins. I did not know that these were the perennial Malabar Gourd.

Apparently the family of my fiancé has grown this for a long time, but never as a perennial. They also only used it in baking or to give it to the pigs (but I read it is a nice edible cooked, even the leaves in some countries). Either it cannot be grown as a perennial in Portugal, or perhaps it need mulching (or it can only be grown as a perennial in the extreme south of Portugal). Otherwise, there is also the likelihood that the "gila" is not really the malabar gourd, but I also read in "perennial vegetables" book that this plant is only a short live perennial.

Let us know if you managed it to grow from last year into this year.

The best thing of this malabar gourd it that it is used in some places as a powerful graft root stock to grow cucumbers! Really amazing stuff
 
benjamim fontes
Posts: 27
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paulo Bessa wrote:Hi Burra Maluca,

The best thing of this malabar gourd it that it is used in some places as a powerful graft root stock to grow cucumbers! Really amazing stuff

Paulo Bessa,
Really amazing stuff.
I will look for malabar gourd to use it as graft root stock for my cocumbers.
Benjamim fontes, zone 9, north Portugal
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Pie
Posts: 8555
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
548
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paulo Bessa wrote:
Let us know if you managed it to grow from last year into this year.


Unfortunately none of mine survived the winter. I'm not sure if it was the thin soil which meant it couldn't 'hibernate', or if it needed more mulch, or if the 'strain' we have isn't perennial. Life was too chaotic to plant more this spring, so it's probably going to be next year before we try again. I'm 'half way down' Portugal, and we do get some quite sharp frosts, so like you say, maybe it's only perennial in the south.

The fruits did store well though. I still have a few left!
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic