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What People May Not Know About Gourds

Good gourd, many people think they have a very good idea of what a gourd is, but they may not be entirely correct. When people think of gourds, they most often think of something like what is shown in the picture; bottle gourds. What they may not know is that this is only one of a huge number of cultivars of gourds.

Gourds have been grown and used for many centuries in Europe and Asia. They’ve been used for such things as vessels for water, as birdhouses, musical instruments, and food. It may come as a surprise that gourds have been used in the Americas for at least as long. In fact, gourds have been found in Aztec archeological digs in Peru that dated from about 13,000 BC. Indeed, most cultivars in the gourd family are actually native to the Americas.

What sometimes confuses people is that the gourd family is known by other names. All cucurbits are gourds. The gourd or cucurbit family is sometimes called the cucumber or squash family. This means that all cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, Luffas (vegetable sponges), and melons are gourds. Bottle gourds, as shown in the picture, originated in Africa, but most species came from South and Central America. Some species are also native to Europe or Asia, too. 

Most kinds of gourds/squashes, as well as tomatoes, potatoes, and corn all originated in America.

October is usually the month when pumpkins are in high demand, so it is appropriate to think about gourds since pumpkins are gourds. 

  • Did you know that all members of the cucumber or squash family were gourds?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Yes, but I didn’t know that most came from the new world


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Written by Rex Trulove

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