It is a wild fruit that was widely known in the towns of Sinaloa, consumed for pleasure and for force to prevent diseases
How many remember having eaten potatoes? It is a fruit related to the primitive life of Sinaloa, the indigenous people collected it and ate it as a winter delicacy, and up to the present generations, it is a fruit of daily consumption, mostly in rural communities in El Alto. In ancient times it was said to help cure diseases. They were not wrong, it does prevent cancer.
The papachi plant or Randia echinocarpa papache, from the Rubiaceae family, is distributed throughout almost the entire country, with a greater presence in warm and semi-warm climates, from sea level to 1,000 meters of altitude and in all kinds of forests and forests. It was present throughout the territory of Sinaloa.
With the arrival of the rainy season, starting in July, in Sinaloa the papachi plants turn green and bloom. From there, round, green fruits emerge with wart-like bumps and soft peaks. At the end of November, the fruits are ripening taking a yellowish tone.
In this condition, some birds bite the fruits by making a small hole and emptying their content, leaving them with a normal appearance. Hence the old saying from Sinaloa “is more chopped than a papachi” is derived.
In the end, the fruits turn blackish giving evidence of their maturity. This plant is also known as “little cross” or “Chinese cross”, because its stems produce branches in opposite pairs. In some Sinaloa communities, the cuttings of its stems are used as hanging coat racks.
For the indigenous people of Sinaloa, papachis or papaches was a subsistence food in winter, when wild fruits are scarce, in primitive cultures their consumption was a delight. It has a bitter and sweet taste at the same time, and its blackish appearance makes it unappetizing. Its consumption is also related to medicinal use, which is why for many children it was a food that entered by force rather than by taste.
Today papachis are mostly consumed in rural communities in the municipalities of Choix, El Fuerte, Sinaloa de Leyva, Mocorito, Cosalá, and San Ignacio, and are sold on the street or in public markets.
The natives attributed healing properties to it to prevent cancer and serious health problems associated with the kidneys and other organs. They were not wrong, today science proves them right.
The papachi plant Randia echinocarpa, was Described by Moc. And Sessé in Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis in 1830, and it has been widely studied in Sinaloa, initially and until today by the botanist Dr. Rito Vega Aviña.
At the beginning of the ’90s, the teacher of the Faculty of Agronomy José de Jesús Solano Rosas studied its germination, with papache plants from the Higuera de los Monzón, Badiraguato. And the properties of the fruit have been studied in Sinaloa since 1998 by different researchers.
Currently, the Dr. in biotechnology, Francisco Delgado Vargas leads important ethnobotanical studies on this species at the Faculty of Biological Chemistry Sciences of the UAS. The fruit has also been studied by Dr. Sylvia Paz Díaz Camacho and other researchers.
The referred scientists started from the empirical knowledge that in Sinaloa rural inhabitants use the papache fruit for kidney, lung, circulatory diseases, diabetes, malaria, and with an emphasis on cancer prevention.
Published works describe the discovery that papache possesses immunomodulatory and anticancer properties. In 2004 they published that the papache fruit contains “soluble melanins related to the protection of ultraviolet (UV) rays, the inactivation of radicals and immunomodulation”, in addition to “having high phenolic values and alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity”.
With these discoveries the indigenous wisdom of Sinaloa surprises.