Sicana odorifera, the only species of the genus Sicana, is a large, herbaceous perennial vine native to tropical South America, grown as an ornamental plant and for its sweet edible fruit. English names include cassabanana or casbanan, sikana, and musk cucumber.
The fast-growing, fleshy vine can reach 15 m or more in height, climbing with four-part adhesive tendrils. The large, hairy, palmately lobed leaves grow to 30 cm in width.
The fruit can be eaten raw and is especially popular during the summer because of its cooling qualities. When served raw, the yellow-orange flesh is usually sliced thin or lightly sweetened because of its sharp flavour. The cassabanana’s most popular usage is in preserves. The unripened fruit is also commonly treated like a vegetable and put into soups and stews. The cassabanana remains in good condition for several months if kept dry and out of the sun.
In Puerto Rico, a fermented liquor used to relieve throat ailments is made using the flesh, water, and sugar. Brazilians use a seed infusion to treat fevers and intestinal worms, while the leaves are used for venereal diseases and uterine hemorrhage. Natives of the Yucatan utilise the cassabanana by concocting a mixture of the leaves and flowers for use as a laxative.
The fruit is additionally grown as an ornamental; it is placed on church altars and its seeds are worn around the neck. Because of its fragrant smell, cassabanana fruits and flowers are sometimes placed in rooms and closets to perfume linens and clothes. The fragrance is also believed to repel moths.[no_toc]