Plant of the Week–Chayote

Chayote (Sechium edule), also known as Cho-Cho in the West Indies and Shu-Shu in Malawi, is a climbing vine which produces avocado-sized fruits.  These gourd-like fruits (which are technically considered to be ‘vegetables’) can be eaten fresh like a cucumber or cooked like a squash.  The leaves may also be cooked and eaten as a vegetable and their consistency strongly resembles that of cooked pumpkin leaves.  They will grow as a perennial crop in tropical climates if given a bit of watering during excessively dry periods.  In Jamaica, Cho-Cho is grown commercially in large fields with 2-meter fence-poles near each plant to allow them to climb.  They are easily propagated as the fruits will begin to shoot new vines even while still on the pre-existing vine.  These can then be harvested and planted with the vine stem facing up and close to a tree, fence, or other ‘supporter’ which will give the plant room to climb and produce.  They make a wonderfully refreshing and low-calorie treat during hot weather and are extremely easy to take care of.  One vine may yield 15-20 new fruits, so new seeds-stock never seem to be in short supply.