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Sechium edule - (Jacq.) Sw.

Common Name Chayote, Mirliton, Cho Ko, Cho-Cho, Vegetable Pear
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist, steep hillsides[418 ].
Range C. America - Guatemala, southern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Sechium edule Chayote, Mirliton, Cho Ko, Cho-Cho, Vegetable Pear


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Sechium edule Chayote, Mirliton, Cho Ko, Cho-Cho, Vegetable Pear
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Summary

Sechium edule or commonly known as Chayote or Choko is a vigorous, perennial vine growing up to 30 m long native to Mesoamerica. It has a tuberous rootstock and heart-shaped leaves. The fruits contain a single seed, and are fleshy, irregular-shaped, and may be white or green depending on variety. The flowers are separate; male flowers are in clusters while female ones occur singly. Infusion of shredded fruit is used to lower blood pressure. The leaves also lower blood pressure and in addition, dissolve kidney stones. Tubers are diuretic and can be used against pulmonary conditions and intestinal inflammations. The fruits can be eaten either raw or cooked - usually boiled or baked. The seeds can be cooked and are great source of protein. Similarly, tubers can be eaten raw or cooked while young leaves and stem tips are cooked as vegetables. The stems yield fibers which are used to make baskets, hats, mats, etc. Plant propagation is through seeds


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sechium edule is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 12 m (39ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Insects, Parthenocarpic. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Chayota edulis (Jacq.) Jacq. Cucumis acutangulus Descourt. Sechium americanum Poir. Sechium chayota

Habitats

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[296 , 301 ]. The fruits can vary in flavour, from bland or starchy to sweetish, depending on the cultivar[299 ]. They can be boiled or baked as a vegetable[298 ]. They can be mixed with lime juice and used as a substitute for apples in pies[301 ]. Fruits of bland cultivars are used industrially as food fillers for pastes and sauces[299 ]. Because of their low energy value, the fruits are gaining importance as a dietary food in hospitals and nursing homes, and are also considered good baby food[299 ]. The fruit is normally used when immature and before the seed has enlarged[299 , 300 ]. The obovoid fruit is up to 18cm long[200 ]. Seed - cooked[299 , 301 ]. Nut-like in flavour[299 ]. The mature, protruding seeds are considered by some to be the best part of this fruit[301 ]. When deep-fried they taste remarkably like french-fried potatoes[301 ]. The seeds are a good source of protein[299 ]. Tuber - raw or cooked[298 ]. They are boiled, baked, fried and candied in syrup[301 ]. The starch-rich tuber can weigh up to 5 kilos[298 ]. Young leaves and stem tips - cooked as a vegetable[298 , 299 ]. Eaten like asparagus[301 ]. A good source of iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin[298 ]. Flowers[331 ].

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.



An infusion of the shredded fruit is used to lower blood pressure[348 ]. The tubers are a potent diuretic and are also applied for pulmonary ailments and relief of intestinal inflammation[299 ]. The leaves are said to possess cardiovascular modifying as well as blood pressure lowering properties and to dissolve kidney stones[299 ].

Other Uses

Other Uses: Fibres from the stem have been used to make baskets and hats and, as reported from Ghana, as binding material in the construction of mud houses[299 ].

Cultivation details

Chayote is a plant of the tropics and subtropics, it can also be grown as an annual crop in areas of the temperate zone that can offer a growing season of at least 6 months[418 ]. It can be grown at elevations up to 2,000 metres in the tropics, yielding better crops above 500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 19 - 30?c, but can tolerate 12 - 40?c[418 ]. Higher yields are achieved when there is a reasonable drop in temperatures over night[300 ]. Temperatures below 13?c cause damage to small unripe fruits, and the plant is killed by frosts[299 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 600 - 2,600mm[418 ]. The plant generally grows well in full sun, but some cultivars produce higher yields when grown in light shade[300 ]. It grows best in a sheltered position in a well-drained, fertile, humus-rich soil[299 , 300 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 8[418 ]. Chayote is a long-lived perennial plant, but in cultivation it is recommended to renew it at least every 3 years because of disease problems[[299 ]. Plants can begin to produce a crop of immature fruits within 3 - 4 months from sowing the seed[296 , 300 ] and then continue producing for a considerable time[300 ]. Individual plants grown on their own usually set a good crop of fruit[299 ]. Mature fruits can be produced 120 - 180 days after sowing the seed[418 ]. The tubers do not develop until the second year, and do not develop well in climates without a dry season. In regions with a season of arrested growth, they can reach 10 kilos in weight and resemble yam tubers[299 ]. Yields of up to 60 tonnes per hectare of mature fruits can been obtained[300 ]. A plant can produce 80 - 100 fruits a year plus 20 - 25 kilos of roots[331 ]. Plants are very susceptible to pests and diseases in wet climates[296 ]. The seed germinates in the ripe fruit whilst still on the mother plant. The stem of the seedling grows out from the fruit apex and curves upwards. It produces roots which abort if they do not make contact with soil[299 ]. The are many named varieties[300 , 301 ]. Flowering Time: Late Fall/Early Winter. Bloom Color: White/Near White. Spacing: 18-24 in. (45-60 cm).

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Propagation

Seed - keep the seed inside the fruit when sowing[296 ]. A mature fruit, with the germinating seed inside, should be planted to two thirds of its length with its widest end down[300 ]. Stem cuttings 15 - 20cm long are sometimes used[300 ]. These should be planted in a shady position and kept moist until they have rooted[300 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chayote, Mirliton, Cho Ko, Cho-Cho, Vegetable Pear, Christophene, Alcaiota, Cayota, Chaco, Chayotera, Chayotli, Chinchayote, Chitungula, Chocho, Choco, Chow-chow, Chuchu, Cidrayota, Ebisusuuti, Fak mao, Fak meo, Fat shau kwa, Fo shou gua, Gambas, Gayota, Goorakathee, Guispui, Harp jeung kwa, Hayato uri, Huisquil, Iskos, Iskus, Iskut, Khaugai, Labu siem, Li gua, Machiche, Ngowe, Papa del aire, Pis, Saiotta, Sayote, Se-uak, Sumsum, Sun ren gua, Susut, Toluteipi, Vegetable pear, Walu jepan, Xuxu, camochayote, chayote, chayóte espinoso, chinchayote, cho-cho, chocho, chou-chou, chow chow|chow chow, christofine, christophine, chuchu, cueza, fo shou gua, hayato-uri, kayote, machiche-francês, machucho, pipinela, stachelgurke, tallote, vegetable-pear, xuxú.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, East Africa, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico*, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Reunion, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe,

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.

Conservation Status

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

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Author

(Jacq.) Sw.

Botanical References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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