Cucurbita ficifolia, commonly referred to as the 7-year melon is a species of squash that holds a significant place in both botanical and cultural realms.

The 7-year melon, once harvested, has an exceptionally hard rind that when kept in optimal storage conditions – cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight – allows it to last for many years without rotting or losing significant nutritional value.

This trait was particularly valuable in the times before modern refrigeration and rapid transport, as it provided a source of nutritious food that could be stored throughout the year and even during long journeys.

Native to the Americas, particularly stretching from Mexico to Argentina, this unique plant is distinguished by its large, lobed, fig leaf-shaped foliage and vibrant, white blossoms.

Cucurbita ficifolia thrives in various climates, showing an exceptional tolerance for cooler temperatures, a trait not common in many squash varieties. The fruit itself is renowned for its versatility; when immature, it boasts a subtle flavor and texture akin to summer squash, but as it matures, it takes on a sweeter profile, similar to that of a melon, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes ranging from savory entrees to desserts, especially in various Latin American cuisines.

Moreover, the seeds are not left behind in their utility, known for their nutritional content; they are often toasted and consumed as a snack or used for medicinal purposes.

Seeds may be purchased from Kitazawa Seed Co. which is known as the Shark Fin Melon. Plant in spring as the weather warms.