Ecuador is the origin of the hybrid cultivar known as the Babaco, which is a member of the genus Vasconcellea. This fruit is the result of a cross between the Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis and the Vasconcellea stipulata plants.
The Development of Babao Fruit
It is the most cold-tolerant plant in the genus Vasconcellea and can thrive at high altitudes (over 2,000 meters). The babaco is a type of herbaceous shrub that is related to the papaya and is known scientifically as Carica papaya (pawpaw or papaya). However, unlike papaya, it only produces female flowers. The babaco plant has an average lifespan of about eight years and has the potential to produce anywhere from 30 to 60 fruits each year. The small plant is a good container specimen, and it is better suited than its cousin the papaya, which needs constant moisture and high temperatures to survive. The papaya needs high temperatures and constant moisture.
It is a small tree that can reach heights of 5–8 meters and may or may not have any branches. The fruit is typically much thinner than its related relative, the papaya, and its diameter is typically less than 10 centimeters. The babaco fruit does not contain any seeds, and the smooth skin, which can be eaten, is said to have a flavor that is reminiscent of strawberry, papaya, and pineapple all at the same time. Because of the shape of the fruit, which is pentagonal, it has been given the scientific name Carica pentagona. Although the fruit is not particularly acidic, it does contain papain, a proteolytic enzyme, which can cause mild irritation or “burns” if it comes in contact with the skin.
Similar to the papaya, the babaco is cultivated for the purpose of harvesting its edible fruit as well as its fruit juice. Cultivation of the plant outside of its natural habitat has been successful as far south as New Zealand, in California, and in some regions of England. Cultivation of the plant has also been successful as far north as Guernsey, the Channel Islands, and to a lesser extent in Italy.
Because the flesh of the babaco, also known as the champagne fruit, is known to be bubbly, this fruit is often referred to as having an attractive torpedo shape.
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