Yes, wow! Bolivian Cucumber (‘Achocha’ or ‘Caihua’) grows like no cucumber I’ve ever seen. Planted on one side of the hoophouse, it grew across the top to the other side, then out both sides and over the top on the outside.
We’d never heard of Bolivian Cucumber (native to Bolivia/Peru) until we were given a few seeds last year. We grew them this year for fun, just to check it out, having no idea what a beautiful monster it would grow up to be.
So vigorous! Covered in flowers which attracted all kinds of insects, then loaded with little cucumbers. It slowed down during the heat of Summer luckily, or we’d have been overrun both with vine and fruit.
The cucumbers are different, smaller and not as juicy. A bit sweeter though, I think. If you let them grow to maturity, they become hollow and are typically stuffed like peppers and roasted.
Medicinally, Bolivian cucumber is used to treat high blood pressure, high blood-cholesterol levels, arteriosclerosis, circulatory problems, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, tonsillitis, and as a remedy for intestinal parasites.
(Again, wow. All that from a humble cucumber.)
While researching, I found a reference to the fruit and leaves being boiled in olive oil and used topically as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. I haven’t found any further topical-use information, but I suspect it may be a language-barrier thing with me not speaking Spanish.
I picked a big handful of the best leaves and all the cucumbers growing outside the hoophouse yesterday, before they get hit by frost, to try making an oil.
If you’re as intrigued as I am with this plant, check out the write-up at ‘Plants For A Future’, one of my favorite online plant resources. Than visit John from Growingyourgreens.com’s garden to see his Bolivian Cucumber patch in this video with great visuals of the plant plus growing and eating information (and very cool, he grows a different variety than what I have- different leaf shape and spiky fruits!).