Sechium edule or Chayote is a perennial plant of the family Cucurbitaceae or gourds. Its fruit, also called chayote, is edible as well as the seed and root.
The plant is perennial in tropical areas but can be grown as an annual, like cucumbers and gourds.
It is a tuberous plant that emits long stems of up to 12 m long. The stems are creeping or climbing when the tendrils get a hold of support.
The leaves are heart-shaped, 3-5 slightly lobed and measure 10-30 cm long.
The plant is monoecious. Male flowers appear in clusters, female flowers are solitary. They are small, yellow or white.
The fruit is a berry of 10-20 cm long, pale green, more or less pear-shaped. Some varieties have smooth skin, others have spikes. The fruit can have irregular sides or one deep irregular groove.
It contains a single flattened seed of about 4 cm. The seed often germinates in the fruit (viviparous).
The fruit has a fresh taste of melon. The seed has a nutty flavor.
- Culinary: the fruit fruit is eaten as a vegetable, raw or cooked.
- Weaving: the stems can be used to weave hats
- Medicinal: promotes lactation, cures whooping cough, skin care…
Chayote, chaco, chayote squash, cho Ko, choco, Christophene, Christophine, common chayote, Madeira marrow, mirliton, pipinela, spiny-fruited chayote, vegetable pear, white-fruited chayote
Chayota edulis, Sechium americanum, Sechium edule subsp. edule, Sicyos edulis
Sechium: from the Greek sikyos (cucumber)
Edule: from the Latin edulis (edible)
Chayote: from the Nahuatl chayotli, the plant was already cultivated by the Aztecs
Steep and moist hills, 0-2200 m
USDA zone 9: the plant dies at 0 °C but the root resists slight frost and the plant may restart next spring.
By seed: the fruit is viviparous and the seed usually germinates in the fruit. The whole fruit may be buried.
It is also possible to extract the seed from the fruit and plant it but it is difficult to extract without damaging it.
Rich soil that retains moisture well
Heavy watering, poor resistance to drought
Abundant organic fertilizer, 3 times : when planting, in the middle of the summer and when the fruits are small.
Grown in pots it can spend the summer outside and winter inside. Left in the garden, it is grown as an annual: the plant dies the surface but may sprout again next spring (depending on the cold it has suffered).
Fruit ripens 35 days after pollination. Fruition is the best after 2-3 years.