History of Bottlegourd

The bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is probably one of humankind's first domesticated vegetable species, providing food, medicine and a lot more. It probably originated in Africa, from where it got distributed, perhaps by floating in sea to India, China, and as far as New Zealand. The gourd is now widely cultivated throughout the tropics, especially India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, tropical Africa and South America. In Kerala, it is mainly used as a culinary vegetable. The cooked vegetable has cooling, diuretic, sedative and anti­bilious action.

The bottle gourd has been used by many societies in diverse and interesting ways. It probably was first used as a water carrier, but quickly found diverse uses in making pipes, snuffboxes, musical instruments, cricket cages, and even life jackets. Containers crafted from the fruit rind of the gourd were in constant use as bottles for carrying wine and water, making the name "bottle gourd" especially appropriate for the crop. A host of musical instruments were also fashioned from bottle gourds, which are in use even today. Gourds are also formed to suit specific uses, by shaping in a mould or tying with string, while growing them.