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20478Say hello to Cojombro

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  • Martin Rice
    Jan 23, 2004
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      This morning when we met Manuel, the tree man, at the finca, he had a
      present for us. Two cojombro fruits (sicana odorifera). They're really
      interesting looking; they're shaped like papaya (the long kind, not the
      round). They have a beautiful color, sort of rust colored or maybe
      orange-crimson. The ones we have are over a foot in length. I did a search
      on the Internet and found that they can reach a length of 2 feet.

      It's a member of the pumpkin family, and Manuel says that you cook it and
      eat it just like pumpkin or ayote. You can make pie, jelly, soup, whatever.

      The interesting thing is that it is extremely rare now in Costa Rica, almost
      extinct. It's a vine that grows supported by trees and can reach great
      heights - 30 - 50 feet. He found a small piece of a leaf stem and was able
      to cultivate it, then plant it, and now harvest it.

      Robin and I will save the seeds and then plant lots of them. From planting
      to harvesting takes less than a year. When we get more, we'd be glad to
      share seeds.

      The fruit is a bit sweet and is quite fragrant, hence the odorifera in its
      scientific name. I've read that one use of it is to put pieces in drawers or
      closets to make them smell nice.

      I mentioned it to a couple of our Tico campesino neighbors, both of whom
      have heard of it, both of whom affirmed that it seems to be quite rare, and
      also, both of whom said that you can "make honey" from it. One of our
      neighbors said that there's a saying here: √Čl que tiene cojombro se lo eche
      al hombro, which means something like He who has cojombro throws it on his
      shoulder, which in turn means that if you have a family, you have to take
      care of it.

      The good news is that although it's extremely rare here in CR, it's alive
      and well in several Latin American countries. It's believed to be native to
      Brazil. On the Internet, I was able to find places in the US, the UK, and
      Germany that had seeds for sale.

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