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Chouchous on sale in Réunion Island
Chouchous on sale in Réunion Island
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Violales
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Superfamily: {{{superfamilia}}}
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: {{{subfamilia}}}
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Genus: Sechium
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Species: S. edule
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Binomial name
Sechium edule
(Jacq.) Swartz, 1800
Trinomial name
Type Species

The chayote (Sechium edule), also known as choko, is an edible plant, which belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises.



The plant was first recorded by modern botantists in P.Browne's 1756 work. [1] In 1763 it was classified by Jacquin as Sicyos edulus and by Adanson as Chocho edulus. Swartz included it in 1800 in its current genus Sechium.


Chayote inside
In the most common variety, the fruit is roughly pear shaped, somewhat flattened and with coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. It has a thin green skin fused with the white flesh, and a single large flattened pip. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour and may be eaten as part of the fruit.

Culinary and medicinal uses

Ichintal (Chayote Root)
Although most people are familiar only with the fruit, which in culinary terms is a vegetable, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible.

The fruit does not need to be peeled and can be eaten raw in salads. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled. Both the fruit and the seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.

The tuberous part of the root is starchy and is both eaten by humans and used as cattle fodder.

The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones.

In Australia, a rumour has floated around for years that McDonalds Apple Pies were made of chokos, not apples. This eventually led them to emphasise the fact that real Granny Smith apples are used in their pies. Chokos are more expensive than the apples supplied to McDonalds Australia.

A dish made with chayote shoots

In Taiwan, chayotes are widely planted for its shoot, known as lóng xü cài (Tr. Ch. 龍鬚菜, lit. Dragon-whisker vegetable). Along with the young leaves, the shoot is a commonly consumed vegetable in the region.

Alternate names

Chayote (pronounced [tʃa'jɔte], roughly "chy-O-tay"), is the Spanish name of the plant, from Nahuatl hitzayotli. It is used in many parts of Spanish-speaking Latin America and in the US. It is known all over the world by many other names:

  • Luana: xuxu
  • Australia: choko
  • Brazil: chuchu
  • Caribbean: christoferine, christophene, cho-cho
  • China (Cantonese): 佛手瓜 fut sao gwa (lit. Buddha hand melon), 合掌瓜 hup jeung gwa (lit. closed palms squash)
  • China (Mandarin): 佛手瓜 (lit. "Buddha hand squash")
  • Dominican Republic: tayota [ta'jɔta]
  • English-speaking countries: chouchou, chocho, cho-cho, mango squash, vegetable pear
  • French Antilles: christophene, christophine
  • Guatemala-El Salvador-Honduras: The dark green variety is labeled güisquil, the yellowish-white variety perulero and the more common light-green variety pataste.
    Perulero (yelowish-white variety)
  • India (Kannada): Seemae BaDhneKayi
  • India (Tamil): Bangalore Katharikai
  • India (Darjeeling): Ishkus
  • Indonesia: labu siam (lit. Siamese pumpkin), jipang (Djogja and Center Java) or waluh
  • Italy: zucca centenaria
  • Jamaica: "chocho"
  • Japan: hayatouri (ハヤトウリ)
  • Latin America: tayote
  • Latin America: chocho
  • Latin America: gayota
  • Louisiana (Cajun, Creole, English): mirliton (sometimes spelled merliton)
  • Mauritius: chouchou
  • Myanmar: gorakha thee (lit. Gurkha fruit)
  • Norway: chavote
  • Philippines: sayote
  • Portugal: pipinella
  • Réunion Island: chouchou
  • Russian: cajot
  • Slovenia: čajota
  • Thailand: fuk maew ฟักแม้ว
  • Vietnamese: su-su, trai su

See also

External links

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  • Rafael Lira Saade. 1996. Chayote Sechium edule (Jacq.) Sw. Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. 8. Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. ISBN 92-9043-298-5 available in pdf format

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