Humankind has had a long and intimate association with gourds, and one of them, the bottle gourd, or calabash, may have been man's first cultivated plant. Although grown in the United States today primarily as ornamentals, in other parts of the world gourds have many other important uses. In delightful text and stunning color and black-and-white photographs, "The Gourd Book "provides fascinating scientific information and folklore about these remarkable plants and keys for identifying species.
The first part of the book deals with tree gourds, widely used as containers and for decoration; the "Cucurbita "gourds, including the buffalo gourd, the Turk's turban, the silver-seed gourd, and the Malabar gourd, all utilized as food, and the beautiful ornamental gourds that are fun to grow; the loofah gourds, which are now enjoying great popularity as cosmetic sponges but have many other uses as well; minor gourds, such as the snake, wax, bitter, teasel, and hedgehog gourds, some of which are used as food or medicine; and gourds mentioned in the Bible.
The second part takes up the bottle gourd, which archaeologists tell us men have used for thousands of years. Even today this gourd is almost indispensable in many parts of the tropics, where different species are used to make containers, musical instruments, and clothing, as food and medicine, and in art. The author concludes with a discussion of the gourd in folklore and myth and an appendix on growing, hybridizing, and preserving gourds for decoration.
This delightfully written book, styled for the general reader, will also appeal to professional and amateur botanists, anthropologists, horticulturists, and everyone interested in plants or gardening.