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Cyclanthera pedata, locally known by its Quechua names kaywa (pronounced kai-wa, hispanicized spellings caigua, caihua, caygua, cayua) or achuqcha (also spelled achocha, achogcha, achojcha, achokcha, archucha), is a herbaceous vine grown for its edible mature fruit, which is predominantly used as a vegetable. Kaywa is known from cultivation only, and its large fruit size as compared to closely related wild species suggests that it is a fully domesticated crop. Its use goes back many centuries as evidenced by ancient phytomorphic ceramics from Peru depicting the fruits. It is also known as slipper gourd, lady's slipper, sparrow gourd (Chinese: 小雀瓜; pinyin: xiǎoquè guā), pepino in Colombia, stuffing cucumber in English.
Origin and distribution
Domesticated in the Andes and traditionally distributed from Colombia to Bolivia, the kaywa is now grown in many parts of Central America. The Moche culture had a fascination with agriculture and displayed this in their art. The kaywa was often depicted in their ceramics.
Different varieties are known to have different Petal colors such as white or green or even yellow. The petals are ordered in a ring around the perigon but the flowers do not have any typical sent. The size Clyclanthera pedata can reach is up to 10 m. The edged green stems are ascending and lying if not tied to a structure. Each Plant has both male (grape shaped flower head) and female single flowers. This plant is known to pollinate its self. The fruits are surrounded by soft thorns and can grow up to 12 cm long 
From the beginning of March the black pointy seeds can be cultivated in greenhouses. For outside usage the vegetation period of this plant begins at the middle of May, although it is recommended that the plants should be raised inside from the end of April. Planting is most successful if the plants are provided with a high amount of compost in a half shady to sunny exposure. Because of self-pollination the plants can be held alone or in groups. With the long vines the plants can crawl along anything and it is crucial to provide some sort of climbing material for the plants. Because of the high growth it is hard to grow Cyclanthera pedata as a commercial crop. Mostly it is held solely and climbing up whatever it can find. Its snail resistance and easy cultivation are good reasons to grow this plant. Also, the fruits can be stored longer compared to other crops. Another positive side of Cyclanthera pedata is it has no known diseases that can harm the plant in Europe. The plant can be cultivated just above 0 °C and up to 2000 meters above sea level and snow only harms the flowers but not the fruits plus it is rather resistant against water stress. First yields can be expected about 12 weeks after planting this one-year plant. Cultivation can be improved if planted next to Topinambur. When cultivating these plants it is important that no cucumbers have been planted in the same spot for 4 years. Also, cabbages and corn are bad predecessors. Ideal crops for a crop rotation before Clyclanthera pedata are legumes or celery. Also, it is important not to do mixed culture cultivation because this sun hungry exotic plant prefer dry leaves. The Clyclanthera pedata is also very interesting when it comes to yields, it is known that it can produce up to 1200 g of fruit per plant. Cultivation in Europe is mostly in greenhouses or in botanical gardens. In India it is widely used during the rainy season in the hills. The Fruits can be harvested during 70 days and harvesting is done over 2 months.
The young fruits, often mildly tasting of cucumber but not crisp, are eaten raw and older fruits are cooked. Also older fruits can be stuffed similar to marrows. Known recipes are stuffing them with meat, fish or cheese and then backed as one would with stuffed peppers. The shoots of this fast growing plant are also edible. Matured fruits can be sun dried or pickled to preserve them and then eat them like vegetables all year round. The whole plant can also be used as fodder for animals. Inter-harvest periods are of 2–3 weeks. fruits The kaywa has a subtle flavor similar to cucumber. 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"). The young shoots and leaves may also be eaten as greens.
The fruit of the Caigua contains along with the components showed in the table also a lot of potassium and magnesium. Therefore Caigua can be strongly recommended as nutritional supplement for potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
|Ascorbic acid||14 mg|
Caigua fruits generally exhibit high antioxidant activity but a low total phenolic content, which indicates that non-phenolic water soluble compounds might be involved. Flavonoids are present in this cyclanthera species, which have antioxidant properties as well and were shown that with a high intake are correlated to a decrease in heart disease.
In addition to the antioxidant activity, the Caigua fruits also have a therapeutic potential in a variety of inflammatory and allergic diseases as well as in cancer therapy.
Dried samples of the Caigua showed α-amylase inhibition which can reduce glucose peaks after meals and therefore are beneficial for diabetic people. The plant also had relevant ACE inhibitory activities, which indicate potential anti-hypertension activity.
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