Can You Eat a Cassabanana?

Leaves are falling without much color. Funny, that, considering 2 years ago when we had an awful drought and the leaves were beautiful. This year we had an over abundance of rain, and now, no fall color to speak of.

The rosemary plants are blooming, and the basils are all doing their best to produce seed before frost. Usually we have frost around Halloween and that's expected this year, too.

A seedling papalo sprang up in the medicinal herb bed. A reader sent a comment (listed elsewhere) that she had found papalo combined well with grape juice. I am anxious to try as I've not found a great deal it goes with. Another reader wrote that she enjoyed it crushed in water for a cooling beverage. You may recall that when Adam our friend and summer WWOOFer was here, he tried papalo in all sorts of dishes, beverages, teas nicknamed him Papalo Picasso, since he is a highly creative artist, wore great hats and played in the papalo beds. Anyoneand salads. We wanting some papalo seed to try, let me know as I'll have plenty in a few weeks. Mine came from Boliva where a friend brought it back from a native community there.

(You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them to see them better if you want).
The banana-looking plant on the left of the photo is actually a banana, the hardy variety that lives outdoors. It has outgrown the bed it's in and one of my jobs yet this fall is to dig it out and move it somewhere. I'm expecting a backhoe for some work in the driveway sometime this fall and will get him to dig a hole as it will take a considerable spot for the banana. On the right side of the photo, what looks like another banana, is actually a banana canna. Really. It looks for all the world like a banana, but isn't, and is in the canna family. It, too, has to be dug up, but it will rest in the dark and quiet of the wellhouse until spring and replanting time.

The Brunswick fig has been giving us a few ripe figs every couple of days, which is why I am anxious for the first frost to hold of as long as possible. Figs can't be picked green and ripened indoors like a tomato can. They have to ripen on the bush, then the rush is to pick the fig while soft and sweet, before the ants attack it. We've had a good crop on this plant, as well as on the Constantine fig. Brunswick freezes to the ground each winter, then comes up bigger and better in the spring. Constantine is different in that it's a 12 ft. high bush that does not die back. Both plants have excellent fruit. I added a Brown Turkey fig this year, as well and it had a few fruits and still has a few coming on. We're not in fig territory, but grow them anyway, with no actual care or attention.

One plant that is just coming into its own is the cassabana, a tropical vine that produces loofah-sized fruit. The photo here shows the female flower and the immature fruit. It would take another month or longer for the fruit to ripen. But it was worth a try and the vine is interesting on the arbor. I bought the seed at Baker Creek Seed and planted it directly in the ground last spring. Had I started the seed in February or March, I might have ripe fruit now. Having no idea what cassabanana tastes like, I don't even know what I've missed. It needs hot summer temperatures to ripen, so it will not be happy with our 40 degree nights.


Anonymous said...

My name is Cheryl. I live in Louisiana about 40 miles south of New Orleans. We grew cassabanana about 25 years ago and gave the all away. It makes a delicious preserve. I ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom and they are out of seeds. Would you be willing to sell some of yours? I would be very happy to purchase from you. Please contact me at: theallemands@excite.com

Kari said...


I would also love to get hold of some seed, but either the seed people are out of stock, or they don't ship to south africa. Any tips on where I can get some seed? Kari

Mary said...

Cheryl, We live in Houma and have some cassabanana,s growing in our garden. Let us know how we can get some seeds to you. lacallais@yahoo.com