Pasacana

Ark of taste
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Yepaat, Neko, Chitan Chile   Pasacana (Harrisia bonplandii) is called yepaat or neko by the Toba people and chitan chile by the Wichí. The plant is a cactus with a thin, spiny stem (5 cm in diameter) that is triangular or square in shape. Pasacana grows wild in mountains, forest clearings and fields alike in the semi-arid regions of Salta, Formosa and Chaco in Argentina. It can grow 3 m or taller in height with support. It flowers beginning in spring with self-fertile white flowers, 35 – 50 cm long.   The fruits produced are round and dark red in exterior color with a scaly texture and a white-colored flesh. The fruits, which individually range from sweet to acidic, are harvested easily due to their lack of spikes and consumed fresh. They do not need to be fully ripe for consumption. Sweets are also often made with the fruit, and if the sweetest pasacanas are used, no sugar needs to be added. In addition to the fruit, the roots are consumed in winter. To remove them, the ground is dug with a shovel, machete or with bare hands when the ground is soft. The roots are boiled like cassava or can be roasted in the ashes. The Pilagá indigenous communities eat them with fat of shad.   Pasacana is not commercially cultivated or sold, and today consumption levels are low, mainly limited to indigenous populations and rural communities. Among younger generations, the fruit is barely known as a food source, and so pasacana risks being lost from the food traditions of this area in future years.

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Territory

StateArgentina
Region

Chaco

Formosa

Salta