Cucurbita ficifolia is an annual vine or trailing plant grown at high altitudes for its edible seeds, fruit, and greens. English names for the plant include chilacayote, chiverre,fig-leaved gourd, malabar gourd, Malabar squash, pie melon, or shark fin melon. In Spanish it is known as alcayota, cayote, cidra, chilacayote, chiverre, or sambo. It shows considerable biochemical difference from the other members of its genus, and does not hybridize readily with them.
The second most important use is for its fruit. The immature fruit is cooked as a vegetable, while the mature fruit is sweet, and used to make confectionery and beverages, sometimes alcoholic. The fruit has a low beta-carotene content, as can be seen from its white flesh. It has a moderate content of carbohydrates, and a relatively low content of vitamins and minerals.
In Chile, marmalade is often made out of "Alcayota".
In Asia the pulp strands are used to make soup, quite similar to "shark fin" soup (hence the name "shark fin melon"). Across Asia eating this melon is also said to help people with diabetes. Several scientific studies have confirmed its hypoglycemic effect.