According to Merriam-Webster:
Definition of GOURD
The Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae) includes hundreds of species of vines bearing coiled, climbing tendrils and some of the most unusual fruits in the world. The total number of species may exceed 700, with at least 100 different genera. Known as “curcurbits” to gourd lovers, the fruits of this exceedingly diverse family come in an astounding array of shapes and sizes, from tiny, marble-sized “jumbie pumpkins” of the Caribbean islands to giant gourds over seven feet (2 m) long. In fact, the undisputed world’s largest fruits belong to this remarkable plant family. According to Cucurbits, the official newsletter of the World Pumpkin Confederation, a 1993 record-breaking pumpkin weighed in at 836 pounds (379 kg) and a giant squash tipped the scales at just over 700 pounds (317 kg). One year later at the “gourd olympics” in Port Elgin, Ontario, the reign of the pumpkin was broken by a 900 (408 kg) pound squash.
… Fun facts I just learned about gourds from this website.
- So important were gourds to Haitian people in the early 1800s that gourds were made the national currency…To this day, the standard coin of Haiti is called a “gourde.”
- Although some popular dictionaries define a vegetable as a plant part generally eaten with a main entree (but not as a dessert), all the edible gourd relatives are really botanical fruits.
- Spaghetti squash and most of the colorful, warty and star-shaped ornamental gourds seen at Thanksgiving time also come from varieties of Cucurbita pepo. Since they all belong to the same species, ornamental gourds, summer squash and pumpkins may cross pollinate in your garden, resulting in some interesting hybrids. In fact, some farmers avoid planting ornamental gourds near their edible crops to prevent pollen contamination and bitter, inedible squash and melons.
- Most hard-shelled gourds come from the Old World Lagenaria siceraria. So important were these gourds in the daily lives of native people, that they were introduced into human cultures throughout the world. Probably their most important use was for containers, including pots, pans and bowls, and these gourds are still used to this day in many parts of the world. For water vessels, they are still preferred over earthenware jars because they are lighter and they cool the water by evaporation. In addition to containers and eating utensils, Lagenaria gourds are used for fishing floats, rafts, pipes and snuffboxes.