Christophene - Knowledgebase Question

Allentown, NJ
Avatar for jsorrells
Question by jsorrells
March 13, 1999
I had a wonderful vegatable in the Carribean recently. It was about 3-4 inches round, exterior knobby and green to yellow in color, pale green to white interior, consistancy something between celery and cucumber, with a very mild flavor. Does this go by some other name, and where can I find seeds or plants?

Answer from NGA
March 13, 1999
Christophene is the French word for chayote, a vegetable which is also much enjoyed in southwestern cooking and elsewhere. Unfortunately it is a tropical vine and does not bear the first year, so it is impossible to grow it in temperate regions. If you were in Florida, here is what I would tell you:

While native to Guatamala, the chayote is popular
throughout tropical regions, where it is known by several
names including vegetable pear, mirliton and mango squash.

Chayote is a tender, perennial-rooted cucurbit, with
climbing vines and leaves resembling those of the cucumber.
The light green, pear-shaped fruit, which contains a single,
flat edible seed, may weigh as much as 2-3 pounds, but
most often is from 6-12 ounces. While fruits may be slightly
grooved and prickly, those grown in Florida are usually

While the chayote has an edible tuberous root which forms
below the crown, it is the fruit for which the plant is grown.
Since it is a perennial, the best production is obtained 2-3
years after the plant is established. The main varieties
include 'Florida Green,' Monticello White,' and various

Some type of trellis or support for the climbing vines is
required. Most trellises in Florida are constructed about
head high to facilitate walking beneath the vines for
harvesting and other operations.

The whole fruit is planted as a seed. Each fruit has a single
large seed that sprouts as soon as the fruit reaches maturity
unless placed in cool storage. Fruits stored at 50 degrees F
remain in goodcondition for planting for as much as 6-8
weeks, although shriveling and decay are common.

Plant one fruit per hill in hills spaced 12 feet apart. Place the
fruit on its side with the smaller stem end sloping upward.
While the stem end is usually left slightly exposed, in colder
areas of Florida growers have found that the fruit should be
completely covered with soil to protect the bud from early
cold damage. Plant in the early spring in all areas of Florida,
and/or in the fall in South Florida.

Fertilizer should be applied in three applications, at planting
time, in the middle of summer and when the fruits are small.
Fertilizing at more frequent intervals might be necessary
when conditions waraent. Well rotted animal manures or
composted materials are beneficial.

Both male and female flowers occur on the same vine.
These flowers are visited by insects, both wasps and bees,
which facilitate pollination.

Chayote is served in many ways: creamed, buttered, fried,
stuffed, baked, frittered, boiled, mashed, pickled, in salads,
or in pies.

Following harvest the fruits may be stored in edible
condition for several weeks if wrapped in newspaper and
kept cool (50-55 degrees F). At room temperature, the fruit
will shrivel and sprout.

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