Sikana is a large, perennial, herbaceous vine with long (about 15m in length), thin, juicy, faceted stems. They are covered with short, sharp pubescence, and have long, twisted, branched tendrils at the nodes, with which the plant can climb vertical surfaces.Large (up to 30 cm in diameter), bent-heart-shaped, five-lobed or seven-lobed leaves, on long, thin petioles, arranged in regular order. They consist of large, elliptical lobes connected at the base, with a jagged or wavy edge, a narrowed base and a sharp apex. The leaf blade is strongly pubescent, dark green or grayish green in color, with pronounced venation.
During the flowering period, large, dioecious, regular flowers appear on the plant, located singly in the leaf axils. They consist of 5 oval or round, yellow or white petals. After pollination, fruits appear on the plant - large, elliptical, slightly curved pumpkins. Their thin, hard, glossy skin is black, dark purple, red-orange, burgundy or straw yellow in color. Under it is dense, juicy, yellow or orange pulp. In young fruits, it has a rather neutral, slightly watery taste, however, as the pumpkin ripens, it becomes richly sweet. In the center of the fruit are large, flat, round or oval seeds.The root system is powerful, rod-shaped, with a large, central, highly branched root.
Sikana is a tropical, fruit vine, which has been cultivated since ancient times in South America to obtain tasty, healthy fruits, as well as to collect healing, medicinal raw materials. The indigenous people of the continent used the flowers, leaves and seeds of the plant to treat irregular menstruation and uterine bleeding, gastrointestinal disorders, and as a fairly effective antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent.
The seeds of the plant were brought to Europe in the 17th century, after the conquest of America by the Spaniards and the Portuguese. However, in a temperate and subtropical climate, this vine is cultivated exclusively as an annual or as a houseplant.The first mention of this liana dates back to 1648 - it was made by European sailors who saw its fruits in one of the markets in South America. But the scientific description of the plant appeared only 100 years later thanks to the Brazilian botanist Jose Marian da Conceisan Veloso, who for a long time studied the medicinal properties of the sicana fruit. He also left the plant its popular name "Sikana", which is translated from the language of the ancient Incas as "fragrant".
The natural area of the Sicana is located in South America. In natural conditions, this plant is quite common in tropical forests and shrubs in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.In the culture, Sikan is grown almost everywhere in both hemispheres, as a very valuable decorative, medicinal and fruit vine. In countries with a hot tropical climate, it is cultivated mainly as a garden, perennial plant, and in our country - as an annual or indoor perennial.
Sikan fruits, in a state of technical ripeness, taste very much like zucchini or cucumber, so they are used to prepare vitamin salads, stewed and boiled vegetable dishes. But the pulp of ripe pumpkins is very sweet in taste, so various desserts, juices and jams are prepared from it.