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The Figleaf Gourd, known locally as "Lacayote," is a variety of pumpkin belonging to the species Cucurbita ficifolia. Indigenous to Mexico and South America, it holds cultural and culinary significance, having been utilized since ancient times by civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans. Lacayote exhibits sprawling climbing stems and is cultivated in regions with elevations ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level, primarily in Latin America.
The fruit of Lacayote is large, round, and heavy, with a tough green skin adorned with cream-colored spots. Its seeds are numerous, compressed, and range from dark brown to black. While the raw fruit is bland, it is often used in cooking, particularly in stews, broths, and traditional sweets. Lacayote seeds, once toasted, are also consumed.
Historically, Lacayote has been an integral part of indigenous diets and rituals, with archaeological evidence suggesting its presence in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Despite its widespread cultivation across various regions, commercialization has dwindled in recent times, with the crop primarily serving for self-consumption and animal fodder.
The cultural practices surrounding Lacayote extend beyond its culinary uses. In central Mexican funeral ceremonies, it is placed under coffins to absorb negative energies, illustrating its role in indigenous beliefs and rituals.
While not currently categorized under any risk category, concerns about the potential loss of traditional knowledge and genetic diversity associated with Lacayote persist, highlighting the need for efforts to preserve its cultural and culinary heritage.

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Nominated by:Fabrizio Elio Uscamayta Espiritu