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Bottle Gourd

Lagenaria siceraria

Calabash Gourd, White-flowered Gourd

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Vigorous annual herb with spreading or climbing stems that are brittle, thick and softly hairy. The simple, medium sized leaves have short, soft hairs and are either egg-, kidney- or heart-shaped. The solitary, monoecious (male and female flowers on one plant) flowers have five petals and are either cream or white, with pale yellow at the base. The fleshy, densely hairy to smooth fruit is sub-globose to cylindrical, flask-shaped or globose with a constriction above the middle. The fruit is green, maturing to yellowish or pale brown with the pulp drying out completely upon ripening, leaving a thick, hard, hollow shell with almost nothing inside except seeds. The many, small seeds are embedded in a spongy pulp and are compressed, with two flat facial ridges, in some variants rather irregular and wrinkled.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Spring, Summer
Fruiting time
Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

When harvesting gourds, leave as much stem as possible. The gourds should be hardened off prior to harvesting. Cease giving water and fertilizer, and let the fruit ripen and harden. A good indication that it is ready to pick are brown, dried stems.

Propagation

Seed
Direct sow seeds or transplant carefully 15-20 day-old seedlings.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Bees help with pollination
Attractive fruits
Interesting shapes that dries to a hard shell. Used to store liquid like water and milk in old days.

Geography

Origin
Indigenous to Africa
Natural climate
WArm and Dry

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
Various medicinal uses of the leaves, fruit and seeds have been recorded from various countries, e.g. as a pectoral, to destroy parasitic worms, a purgative and even as a headache remedy.
Edible
Leaves, shoots, fruits and seeds are edible when young.

Personality

Family
Cucurbitaceae
Flower colour
Cream, white or pale yellow
Scent
None

Problems

Cucumber beetle, aphids, slugs, snails, powdery mildew and squash vine borers.

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