The original wild plant is rich in cucurbitacins, extremely bitter and irritating substances to the digestive tract of mammals, causing nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. For the elephants, giraffes and rhinos this purgative effect is good. Eating a few kiwanos not only no hurts them, but gives them vitamin C and will irritate their digestive tract that facilitates intestinal transit and evacuation of many vegetable fibers stuck in the folds of their lengthy colon.
In return the kiwano gets that their seeds are scarified with digestive juices of these large herbivores and subsequently defecated away from the mother plant, falling on the sand wrapped in a magnificent natural compost that serves as a fertilizer. So can remain for months or even years, until finally a sporadic rain so typical of deserts allowed to germinate, bloom and fruit in just three months, making the most the ephemeral moisture of sandy soil. Its long branches typical of cucurbits extending radially on the sand or climbing on a near bush or tree and every internode develops a fruit that mature takes on a striking orange color and gives off a scent that attracts irresistibly back to elephants, rhinos and giraffes and so repeats the cycle of its life.
The fruits that are grown for human consumption are a mutant selected from the antiquity that lacking cucurbitacins, so are neither bitter nor purgatives. In Africa especially salad grown in Zimbabwe, where they are called gaka or gakachika. Outside its home continent its cultivation has spread to every country in the world with a favorable climate, especially Israel, Chile, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Italy and southern Spain (Almunecar). The name kiwano would put by the New Zealand farmers in allusion to their other best-known crop, the kiwi. Both fruits, one African and one Chinese, are widely grown in this southern country where they have been selecting cultivars growing juicy and aromatic.
And finally here you have a delicious salad whose acid taste whets the appetite. It can be eaten as a first course or accompany veal steaks, lamb chops or pork, a rabbit, a quail, sardines, squid or a few grilled cuttlefish. It also combines well with a few shrimp skewers or kebabs.