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Title: Gourds  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of domesticated plants, Hand percussion, Native Seeds/SEARCH
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


This article refers to the plant family and its dried fruit shell. For the music group of a similar name, see The Gourds. For details on gourd species, please refer to List of gourds and squashes.

A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, luffa, and melons.[1] The term gourd, however, can more specifically refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita,[2][3] or also to their hollow, dried-out shell. A gourd can also have a hard shell when dehydrated. The best time to plant a gourd is very late spring to early summer and will grow very richly if in warm climate.[4] The hard-rinded fruits can be carved to create raised relief images.[5] Painting[6] and wood burning[7] are also used to decorate the shells.

Gourds are one of the earliest crops to be domesticated, having been grown for at least 10,000 years as ornamentation or for making musical instruments and utensils (suction cups by Greek Hippocrates around 3rd century B.C.). Normally they are inedible due to a lack of flesh or undesirable flavor, although some varieties such as the snake gourd can be eaten in addition to utilitarian purposes. Gourds of the Lagenaria genus favor a subtropical or tropical climate and grow poorly in cooler regions, so most varieties planted in Zone 7 and below are derived from Cucurbita.

Scientists in India[8] have now crossbred six other less popular members of the gourd genus found in the country. These include Teasle gourd (Momordica Dioica), Spine gourd (Momordica Subangulata), Sweet gourd (Momordica cochinchinensis), balsam apple (Momordica balsamina), Momordica sahyadrica, known as vaika in Kerala and Momordica cymbalaria, called athalakka’i in Tamil Nadu. This will make the lesser known gourds commonly available.


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