Inca peanut (Plukenetia volubilis)
The Inca Peanut, also known as the Mountain Peanut and Sacha Inchi, is a perennial evergreen climbing shrub native to the tropics of South America. It is a fatty-acid rich relative of the Euphorbiaceae (Spurge) family, related to the Otaheitie Indian Gooseberry and Castor-Oil Plant. The oil extracted from the Inca Peanuts contains high-volume amounts of omega 3 that can be used for many health and beauty purposes.
Their protein-rich seeds are one of Peru’s oldest cultivated plants, popular for roasting and containing a rich, oily, robust nutty crunch. Think chickpea crossed with a peanut, as far as flavor. The rich oil extracted from the seed is often found in cosmetics. Leaves are often cooked down and used for greens.
A fast, container-friendly grower, the Inca Peanut grows semi-hairy heart shaped leaves on a climbing vine. Best with a trellis, it creates weaving vines adorned with green, 5-sided, inedible pulped fruits which are kept on their vines to dry and brown before harvesting for their mature seeds.