Saturday, August 9, 2008

Italian edible gourd

I had no idea that there were so many different sorts of gourds, edible and otherwise, until my 'summer squash mix' adventure earlier this summer (here are links to just a couple of posts about them: 1 and 2). Those 'squash' -- I'm quite sure that they're actually a bicolored gourd--are still chugging along, in spite of continued wilting in the afternoon. They're quite delicious, eaten at about an inch or an inch and a half long, but their skins become quite hard and tough if they get any bigger.

But I'm currently watching another interesting squash relative. They're all squashes, of course, being members of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae). I was thinking that based on how resistant gourds and the C. moschata squashes (tromboncino) are to pesky squash vine borers, that it would be worth trying other edible squashes.

Versions of Italian edible gourds (Lagenaria siceria 'Longissima') are apparently grown in warm climates in many places (the names of Lagenaria siceria cultivars are quite complex), and are probably native to India, but were domesticated and spread long ago. Just the English common names are remarkably diverse: bottle gourd, Italian edible gourd, long fruited gourd, long melon, long squash, New Guinea bean, Tasmania bean, snake gourd, as well as many more.

Its white flowers open in the evening and are fragrant, and probably were moth-pollinated originally. (I could happily spend hours doing web searches about these things...but there's planting to do!)

The Lagenaria is thriving on a trellis in full sun in the satellite garden. I'm looking forward to seeing (and trying) the fruits.

2 comments:

  1. Hey, I bought a pack of seeds that are a mixture of ornamental gourds. Now that there are plenty of gourds growing, I can't tell which is which. The Italian Edible, the Spoon Gourd, and the Pear Bi-Color look the same. Any help?

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  2. Amy, as they mature fruits, the fruits should look quite different, even if the foliage all looks the same. Normally ornamental gourds won't be edible (they'll be quite bitter), but if your packet of seeds included an Italian Edible, it's like to be a 'loofa' type of squash, edible when young, fibrous when mature. Spoon gourds look like the photos on my post, and pear bi-color probably look quite similar.

    Enjoy your foray into ornamental gourds!

    Lisa

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