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Cyclanthera pedata - (L.)Schrad.

Common Name Achocha, Caihua, Caygua, Cayua, Korila, Wild Cucumber
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild condition.
Range Original range is obscure, probably the Andes of S. America, but now widely cultivated through tropical America.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cyclanthera pedata Achocha, Caihua, Caygua, Cayua, Korila, Wild Cucumber

Cyclanthera pedata Achocha, Caihua, Caygua, Cayua, Korila, Wild Cucumber


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Acocha or Cyclanthera pedata is an herbaceous vine found in Central America. It usually grows up to 4.5 m and is commonly grown for its edible fruits. Young fruits are eaten raw while older fruits are cooked. The young shoots and leaves may also be eaten. Tea from seeds of acocha can be used as remedy for high blood pressure. Dried and powdered seeds are used in the treatment of intestinal parasites. Other plant parts can be used to treat gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, tonsillitis, circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes. The plant is grown from seed.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cyclanthera pedata is a ANNUAL growing to 4.5 m (14ft 9in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from August to September. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Insects.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Fruit. Young, immature fruits are eaten raw or cooked and have a similar taste to cucumbers though they are not crisp[ 183 , 193 ]. Older fruits are cooked, they can be stuffed in much the same way as marrows[ 183 , 196 ]. The fruit has a large cavity in which the seeds develop, and this can be filled with other foods to make kaywa dishes. This may have inspired the local Spanish name pepino de rellenar ("stuffing cucumber"). Mature fruit are cooked with oil and vinegar or added to soups and stews. The fruit is about 6 - 15cm long[ 196 ] and 6cm wide[ 200 ]. Leaves and tender young shoots - cooked and used as greens[ 183 , 284 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A tea made from the seeds is used in the treatment of high blood pressure[ 284 , 318 ]. The dried and powdered seeds are taken in 1 gram doses as a remedy for intestinal parasites[ 318 ]. This sort of treatment is usually followed by a laxative to make sure the parasites are removed from the body[ K ]. The seeds and/or the fruits are recommended for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders[ 318 ]. The fruits are diuretic. They are boiled in milk and gargled as a treatment for tonsillitis[ 318 ]. The fruit juice is recommended as a treatment for conditions such as high blood-cholesterol levels, hypertension, tonsillitis, arteriosclerosis, circulatory problems and diabetes[ 318 ]. The fruits and/or the leaves are boiled in olive oil and used externally as a topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic[ 318 ]. The leaves are considered to be hypoglycaemic and are prepared in a decoction for treating diabetes[ 318 ]. Research conducted in Peru has shown that the plant can lower blood-cholesterol levels in humans with one trial showing an 18.3% reduction in 12 months and other trials showing even larger reductions[ 318 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

The roots are used to clean the teeth[ 318 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

It is a commercially cultivated vegetable. Achocha is a plant of the tropics, where it can be found at elevations up to 3,000 metres[ 196 , 299 ]. It can also be cultivated in the subtropics and in areas of the temperate zone that have a long, warm growing season of 4 months or more[ 196 ]. Requires a very warm, sunny and sheltered position in a rich well-drained soil[ 200 ]. The plant is considered to be a weed pest in Florida[ 318 ]. The first harvest of fruit can take place about 3 months after planting, and can then continue for several months[ 299 ]. There are many named forms[ 196 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow mid spring in a rich compost in a warm greenhouse or warm sheltered spot. Put 2 or 3 seeds in a pot and thin the seedlings to the strongest plant. Plant out after the last expected frost and give the plants some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. A spacing of 90 cm is suitable. Plants should be staked.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Also known as: Achocha, Achokcha, achojcha, Achoqcha, achuqcha, Acochca, archucha Barela, Bottle gourd, Caigua, Caihua, Caygua, Cayua, kaywa, Korila, Lamthabi, Meetha karela, Patal, pinyin (Chinese) Pepino de rellenar, Prickle cyclanthera, Slipper gourd, Stuffing cucumber, lady's slipper, sparrow gourd, Calabash gourd.

SOUTHERN AMERICA: Argentina Northwest, Bolivia, Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

The plant is considered to be a weed pest in Florida, USA.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cyclanthera brachystachyaCuchinitoAnnual3.0 9-11  LMHSM10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Manuel Tabujara   Fri Jul 28 2006

I have been looking for achocha seeds. Will someone please tell me where to buy it or get it? Thank you. Manuel Tabujara Sacramento, California

sue derry   Thu Jan 25 2007

Sue Derry We have recipes for achocha and some free seeds available for customers who are on our mailing list

   Sat Aug 25 2007

I am growing Achocha for the first time this year. The fruits are about 4cm long but already seem to have tough skins. I will try growing them on for stuffing or curries? The seeds can be obtained from The Heratage Seed Library (part of Garden Organic,Ryton,UK).

Stephen   Fri Sep 7 2007

I've grown achocha this year in the English Midlands with seeds from the Real Seed Company in Pembrokeshire. High germination rate. Huge, trailing plants that I've allowed to scramble up some netting supported on canes. In full flower and still growing. I've eaten a few of the fruits, which fry well, though you need to remove the black seeds from mature fruits. Hoping to get lots more because there are masses of tiny fruits appearing, but everything depends on the weather.

Paulien   Mon Dec 15 2008

I have lots of seeds from this lovely and very easy to grow plant. I'm looking for seeds of exotic (but frost hardy for zone 8) plants with edible fruit, maybe we can make a trade?

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Jean   Sun Nov 8 2009

I have grown achocha this year and although the weather here hasn't been too good, the crop has been amazing. I use the fruits raw in salads when young and they are delicious used as a sweet pepper in a stir fry. It is now November and I am still going out and picking lots of fruits. I have also saved lots of seeds for next years crop. If any of you are thinking of growing achocha, do be warned that it is quite a thuggish plant and it will take over your plot if not kept in check. Also, 2 plants will adequately supply enough fruits for a family.

   May 8 2011 12:00AM

Excellent plant that I've grown for 3 summers here in Manchester UK. I let it scramble up a hedge where it reaches 10 feet (and would go higher)- big yield, we only need 2 or 3 plants to supply us. Mostly use it like sweet peppers (capsicums).

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