Crops in the category of fruit vegetables are a group of species almost entirely from two families, Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae, which have little in common except that they are fruits. Most are of modest nutritional value, but all contain useful dietary fiber. Few are highly valuable as fruit vegetables, including the tropical pumpkin, the pepper, and the tomato. Others could be exploited for their seeds, which are especially rich in proteins and oils. However, others contain poisonous seeds (e.g., Luffa). Some produce edible leaves or shoot tips. Some species, especially tomato and pepper, are used as condiments and may contribute useful amounts of nutrients to the diet in this form. Some may have one or many improved varieties, which should be compared to local varieties for best results.
See A Comparison of Fruit Vegetables
• Achuffa (Pepino de Comer).Cyclanthera edulis. Fruits like hollow cucumber, may also be stuffed before cooking or pickling. Temporarily out of stock.
• Bottle gourd.Lagenaria siceraria. (Calabash or Birdhouse gourd). Edible only when very small. (EDN 8-3). Gourds used as containers/vessels; very prolific in subtropics. Buffalo gourd. Cucurbita foetidissima. Roots used for firewood; seed rich in oil and protein; requires long periods of warm dry weather; edible oil made from crushed seeds; native Americans used fruit, pulp, and vines as soap.
• Cucuzzi (Italian squash).Lagenaria sp. Does well in very hot weather; fruits harvested when 18" long; can be used as a container when dried.
• Eggplant.Solanum melongena. Selected varieties of purple, white and striped available. (EDN 14-4).
• Loofah (sponge gourd). Luffa acutangula. Preferred as a vegetable; ridged fruit eaten when young. Luffa cylindrica. Smooth fruit, edible when young. Both species are vigorous climbing vines. Seeds toxic.
• Okra. Hibiscus esculenta. African type; likes the hot weather, but will produce in winter, unlike most okras.
• Pepper, Ensalada. Capsicum chinense. Perennial; produces small fruits that are usually not hot but have the taste and smell of hot peppers. Leaves can be cooked like spinach. Also available is Capsicum frutescens.
• Pumpkin. Cucurbita moschata. Tropical or Calabaza varieties: La Primera, Brian, CBDE, Trinidad, and Tropical mix. Seminole varieties: Acorn, Ingram Billie, Hardy, and Seminole mix. Vigorous, productive vines. (EDN 8-3, 18-2, 37-3).
• Snake gourd. Trichosanthes cucumerina. Young fruits eaten cooked; climbing vine.
• Tamarillo or Tree tomato.Cyphomandra betacea. Red Andean fruits used raw, in juice or jams. Requires high altitudes. Low-germination seeds available only.
• Tomato. Lycopersicon esculentum. Varieties with high vitamin A: Alcobaca-Beta (in breeding, its hybrids have high betas and extended shelf life), Floradade-Beta, Kewalo-Beta. Disease-resistant varieties offered individually or as a variety trial: Hayslip, Florida MH1, Tropic, Walter, Floradade. Others (can bear in summer): Open-pollinated-Matlinka, Saladette; Hybrids-Solar Set, Heatwave: not very disease-resistant but are able to set fruit at higher temperatures. Seed cannot be saved, as they are hybrids. (EDN 24-1, 32-1, 36-4).
• Wax gourd or Chinese wintermelon. Benincasa hispida. Best cucurbit for seed oil in hot humid tropics; flesh eaten as a summer squash; the fruit can be stored for many months. (EDN 2-5, 8-3).
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