The Bottle gourd belongs to the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae). In its wild form it is bitter and inedible, but cultivation and selection have made it into a sweet and valuable food crop.
Also called bottle squash and calabash gourd, the bottle gourd is a well traveled vegetable. And they can survive in salt water for more than 6 months.
There are dozens of cultivars with wide variation in size, color, shape, timing of fruit, etc. Sizes range from 4 inches to 40 inches in length and 2 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Neck length can by up to 15 inches.
Bottle gourds probably originated in Africa, but there are remains in Peru dating to 10,000 B.C. Remains have been found in Egypt, India, New Zealand, Mexico, Indonesia, China, and Florida. It probably floated on the seas in it's long travels.
The young gourds can be eaten like zucchini, and the older, mature gourds are cleaned and dried and used for containers such as bottles, bowls, etc.
The bottle gourd is the only cultivated crop known to have existed in both the Old and New Worlds in pre-Columbian times.
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