Babaco (Carica pentagona)

Babaco, a very nutritious food

Babaco belongs to the caricaceae family. This plant grows in an equatorial mountain climate and is believed to have originated in the province of Loja, in Ecuador and its scientific name is Carica pentagona. It is a fast growing semi-woody shrub that after only 6 months of cultivation can exceed 2 meters in height and reach 3 meters in 1 year.

Origin and habitat of the Babaco

Babaco tree full of fruits

Babaco is a fruit that comes from the central part of South America, the highlands of Peru and Ecuador to be more specific, where most of the crops are found. Recently some countries in Europe as well as Australia began to cultivate this plant. It prefers humid places, with well-drained soils and without any stagnation.. The appropriate temperature for its cultivation ranges from 14º to 30º.

Feature

This is a plant with tuberous roots and a porous, fibrous, grayish stem with a diameter that gradually reduces from the base to the apex. Its large leaves are grouped at the top and develop alternately on the trunk. They have 5 to 7 lobes and a lanceolate apex, the veins are very visible. The flowers of this species are only female and have a greenish-white bell-like appearance measuring 3,5 to 4 cm.

The Babaco fruit has an elongated, pentagonal shape that is approximately 30 cm long. Unripe fruits are greenLater, yellow stripes are observed on their peel and then turn totally yellow when they are ripe. Its pulp is creamy white and very aromatic. Regarding the flavor, it is a mix between strawberry and pineapple.

They reach their ideal size two months before harvest, reaching an average weight of 1 kg, but fruits of up to 2 kg can be achieved. A plant can produce between 35 and 40 fruits.

 Its cultivation

It is a kind of humid and rainy climatic conditions, in addition it does not tolerate cold or strong winds, so it is necessary to put up wind barriers if you plan to cultivate in open fields. The perfect exposure is in full sun. Now, if this is too intense you can take it to the greenhouse.

In relation to the soil, it grows in clay soils that drain well because the stagnation of water causes its roots to rot. Before sowing, you must open a hole of approximately 50 cm and add natural fertilizer with phosphopotassium fertilizers. The best period for its cultivation is in the spring and in holes of 30 or 40 cm wide; for a better result add peat and fertilizer.

During their growth it is important that the plants maintain a height that does not exceed 2 m to avoid the appearance of new apical flowers. In growing areas with low rainfall you need to apply constant watering. In hot regions, sprinkler or sprinkler irrigation systems that increase humidity in the place are very useful.

In less hot places, it is better to use the drop system. The collection can be done between 6 and 12 months; the Optimal fruit for harvest should be green with yellow stripes.

Propagation

yellowish futa called Babaco

As a the species is only female, its propagation is only possible through the parthenocarpic process, which means that its propagation is only vegetative. Through the use of cuttings or micropropagation you can obtain uniform cultures of the species. To do this, divide the trunk into sections 25 cm long and then You place them outdoors in the dark for four days to heal the cuts. The use of fungicides is important.

Uses and properties

The Babaco, in addition to its good taste it is rich in nutrientsIt is particularly rich in vitamin C and A and contains potassium. A serving of this fruit is more than enough to obtain the daily requirement of vitamin C recommended by the specialists. It is Ideal for those who are on a diet, as the fruit contains few calories. For that reason and for those people who want to lose weight, it is an excellent option.

All parts of the Babaco can be used, including the shell. It can be eaten alone or in salads. Cream or ice cream can be added to add flavor and is great for making smoothies.


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