Back in the day, when I lived in Miami, plant expert Julia Morton first brought this plant to my attention. Years later, in 2017, Joe Pierce of Micanopy, gave me seeds, and now I grow them at long last. This incredibly vigorous vining perennial, that is usually grown as an annual, yields elongated, hard-shelled, fruits to two feet long. They are quite delicious, and have a melon-like, almost cantaloupe-like flavor, with a lovely fruity scent. It should certainly be more well known here in Florida, so let's start sharing the seeds more often. Know that this vine will rapidly grow to fifty feet or more, covering trees, carports, even houses... so give it plenty of room to sprawl.
EDIBLE FRUIT: “Renowned for its strong, sweet, agreeable, melon-like odor.”  “Firm, orange-yellow or yellow, cantaloupe-like, tough, juicy flesh, 3/4 in (2 cm) thick. In the central cavity, there is softer pulp, a soft, fleshy core.”  “Ripe flesh is eaten raw, or made into “making jam or other preserves.”  “The immature fruit is cooked as a vegetable or in soup and stews.” [2,4]
FRUIT STORAGE: Fruits keep “for several months if kept dry and out of the sun.” 
MEDICINAL LEAVES AND FLOWERS: “The leaves are employed in treating uterine hemorrhages and venereal diseases. In Yucatan, a decoction of leaves and flowers (2 g in 180cc water) is prescribed as a laxative, emmenagogue and vermifuge, with a warning not to make a stronger preparation inasmuch as the seeds and flowers yield a certain amount of hydrocyanic acid.” 
MEDICINAL FRUIT: “In Puerto Rico, the flesh is cut up and steeped in water, with added sugar, overnight at room temperature so that it will ferment slightly. The resultant liquor is sipped frequently and strips of the flesh are eaten, too, to relieve sore throat.” 
MEDICINAL SEEDS: “The seed infusion is taken in Brazil as a febrifuge, vermifuge, purgative and emmenagogue.” 
USEFUL FRAGRANT FRUITS: “People like to keep the fruit around the house, and especially in linen- and clothes-closets, because of its long-lasting fragrance, and they believe that it repels moths.”  “Ripened fruit is also used as a centerpiece that perfumes an entire room with a wonderful, fresh melon fragrance.” 
recipe from Zoom’s Edible Plants
3 cups of cooked Cassabanana fruit pulp
1 / 2 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 spoon of clarified butter
Fresh green pepper - 1 finger, seeded, and chopped into squares
1 spoon of finely chopped parsley
1 pinch of salt
Place the pulp in a saucepan and stir in raw milk. Beat well with mixer (if not, press the pulp through sieve or potato masher before adding the milk). Return to heat and simmer, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, add butter and stir to melt. Add salt if necessary. Separately, heat the clarified butter and add the pepper and parsley. Turn off the heat and add a pinch of salt.
Place the puree in a bowl.
Serves: 3 cups mashed.
NATIVE TO: Most likely Brazil, originally.  Now, it is “spread throughout tropical America.”  “Cultivated in parts of Central and South America.” 
HABITAT IN THE WILD: “It is grown near sea-level in Central America but the fruit is carried to markets even up in the highlands. “ 
DESCRIPTION: Monotypic genus, this is the only species within the genus. “The vine is [an herbaceous] perennial, herbaceous, [very – 3] fast-growing, heavy, climbing trees to 50 ft (15 m) or more by means of 4-parted tendrils equipped with adhesive discs that can adhere tightly to the smoothest surface.
- STEMS: Young stems are hairy.
- LEAVES: The leaves are gray-hairy, rounded-cordate or rounded kidney-shaped, to 1 ft (30 cm) wide, deeply indented at the base, 3-lobed, with wavy or toothed margins, on petioles 1 1/2 to 4 3/4 in (4-12 cm) long.
- FLOWERS: White or yellow, urn-shaped, 5-lobed, solitary, the male 3/4 in (2 cm) long, the female about 2 in (5 cm) long.” 
- FRUIT: “The striking fruit is ellipsoid or nearly cylindrical, [looking alot like a cucumber – 3] sometimes slightly curved; 12 to 24 in (30-60 cm) in length, 2 3/4 to 4 1/2 in (7-11.25 cm) thick, hard-shelled, orange-red, [orange, yellow - 3], maroon, dark-purple with tinges of violet, or entirely jet-black; smooth and glossy when ripe, numerous flat, oval seeds, 5/8 in (16 mm) long and 1/4 in (6 mm) wide, light-brown bordered with a dark-brown stripe, in tightly-packed rows extending the entire length of the fruit.” 
HISTORY: “Historians have evidence that it was cultivated in Ecuador in pre-Hispanic times. It was first mentioned by European writers in 1658 as cultivated and popular in Peru.”  Julia Morton writes, “Venezuelans and Brazilians are partial to the vine as an ornamental, but in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico it is grown for the usefulness of the fruit.” “Dr. John Thieret, formerly Professor of Botany at Southwestern Louisiana University, says that the Cajuns in the southern part of that state grow the cassabanana for making preserves.” 
CULTURE: A perennial vine usually grown as an annual.  It has fruited across Florida.
- LIGHT: Full sun. 
- HARDINESS: “Not frost hardy.” 
- TEMPERATURE: “A high temperature during the fruiting season is needed to assure perfect ripening.” 
- WATER: “Provide ample water.” 
- STRUCTURE: A heavy vine. “Brazilians train the vine to grow over arbors [and strong trellises – 4] or they may plant it close to a tree. However, if it is allowed to climb too high up the tree there is the risk that it may smother and kill it.” 
- PROPAGATION: By seeds or cuttings. 
Rate of GrowthFast
When to Plant
Sources for acquiring
Baker Creek Seeds
 Fruits of Warm Climates, Julia Morton
 TradewindsFruit Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
 Zoom’s Edible Plants
Valter Franca on flickr [photo: flower close up]