Sicana Naudin, Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot., ser. 4, 18: 180. 1862.
Type: Sicana odorifera (Vell.) Naudin, Ruiz & Pavon 26/6 (MA), Peru, 1778-88.
Annual or perennial climber with up to 15 m long, herbaceous shoots and monoecious sex system. The leaves are simple, petiolate, up to 24 cm long, the blade is ovate to sub-orbiculate, palmately 3-9-lobed, often with discoidal glands at the leaf base. The tendrils are 3-5-fid, with apical adhesive pads. The flowers stand solitary, medium-sized to large, showy with obconical or campanulate receptacle-tube and five triangular-lanceolate, reflexed or less often ascendent sepals. The corolla is campanulate, divided in the upper quarter, with five yellow petals. The three stamens are inserted close to the mouth of the tube on short, free or fused filaments. Two anthers are bithecous, one is monothecous with duplicate thecae containing echinate pollen. The ovary is elliptical with three placentae and many horizontal ovules. The short style ends in three stigmata. The fruit is a smooth pepo, globose, ellipsoid or cylindrical in shape, up to 60 cm long. The many seeds are compressed, ovate, with distinct margin and sometimes narrowly winged. The chromosome number is n = 20 in S. odorifera (Mercado and Lira 1994).
The four species grow in rain forest and secondary scrub in the Carribean Islands and Central America. The cassabanana, Sicana odorifera, is widely cultivated as a vegetable in the Neotropics.
The genus Sicana is placed in tribe Cucurbiteae, where it groups with Calycophysum and Penelopeia (Schaefer et al. 2009, Schaefer & Renner 2011).
Sicana fragrans Alain, M.M. Mejia & R.G. Garcia, Moscosoa 8: 10-16. 1994.
Sicana odorifera (Vell.) Naudin, Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot., ser. 4, 18: 181-184. 1862.
Sicana sphaerica Hook., Bot. Mag. 116: pl. 7109. 1890.
Sicana trinitensis Cheesman, Fl. Trinidad & Tobago 1: 447. 1940.
Khunwasi, C. 1998. Palynology of the Cucurbitaceae. Doctoral Dissertation Naturwiss. Fak., University of Innsbruck.
Lira, S. R. 1991. Observaciones en el género Sicana (Cucurbitaceae). Brenesia 35: 19-59.
Mercado, P. and R. Lira Saade. 1994. Contribution al conocimiento de los numeros chromosomicos de los generos Sechium P. Br. y Sicana Naudin (Cucurbitaceae). Acta Botanica Mexicana 27: 7-13.
Schaefer, H. and S.S. Renner. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships in the order Cucurbitales and a new classification of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Taxon 60: 122-138.
Schaefer, H., Heibl, C., and S.S. Renner. 2009. Gourds afloat: a dated phylogeny reveals an Asian origin of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) and numerous oversea dispersal events. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 843-851.