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A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term gourd, however, can more specifically refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita 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. The hard-rinded fruits can have carving done to create scenes raised in relief. Painting and wood burning 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 Curcubita.
May 27th, 2013
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