Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria)

Annual Climber
L. vulgaris.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Bottle Gourd
Lagenaria siceraria

The shell of well-ripened fruits is very hard and can be used for many purposes such as bottles, bowls, musical instruments etc. There are many different shapes of fruits from the various different varieties[1, 27, 46, 61, 86, 97].

  • Medicinal Use

    The pulp around the seed is emetic and purgative[46, 178, 272].

    A poultice of the crushed leaves has been applied to the head to treat headaches[257].

    The flowers are an antidote to poison[218].

    The stem bark and the rind of the fruit are diuretic[218].

    The fruit is antilithic, diuretic, emetic and refrigerant[178, 218]. The juice of the fruit is used in the treatment of stomach acidity, indigestion and ulcers[272].

    The seed is vermifuge[218]. A poultice of the boiled seeds has been used in the treatment of boils[257]. Taken with Achyranthes spp the seed is used to treat aching teeth and gums, boils etc[218].

    Extracts of the plant have shown antibiotic activity[218]. In many parts of China 3 grams per day of this species (the report does not say what part of the plant) has been used as a single treatment for diabetes mellitus[218].

  • Edible Use

    Immature fruit – cooked and used as a vegetable[2, 27, 200]. They can be boiled, steamed, fried, used in curries or made into fritters[183]. Of variable quality, but some of the selected cultivars from India and China are of very good quality, equivalent to good summer squashes[183]. The pulp around the seed is purgative and should not be eaten[46]. The fruit can be dried for later use[86].

    Leaves and young shoots – cooked and used as a potherb[178, 183].

    Seed – cooked. Rich in oil, it is added to soups etc[183]. A vegetable curd, similar to tofu, can be made from the seed[183].

    An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is used for cooking[177, 183]. Yields of up to 45% have been obtained[240].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse in a rich soil, putting 2 – 3 seeds in a pot and thinning to the strongest plant. Grow on fast and plant out as soon as possible after the last expected frosts, giving some protection until the plants are established and growing well. The seed germinates best at 25¡c[86]. Soaking the seeds for 12 hours in warm water prior to sowing can hasten germination[86]. Discard any seeds that have not germinated after 10 days, the plants they produce will not be vigorous enough to succeed outdoors in Britain[86].
Prefers a well-drained moist good rich circumneutral soil[1, 27, 86, 200]. Requires plenty of moisture in the growing season[1]. Prefers a warm sunny position sheltered from the wind[86]. The bottle gourd is widely cultivated in the tropics and sub-tropics for its edible fruit and for the hard wooden shell of the fruit that can be used as containers, musical instruments etc[206], there are many named varieties with different shaped and sized fruits[86, 183, 206]. The variety ‘Cougourda’ is said to be the best for eating[132]. Forms with wooden shells tend not to have an edible flesh[206]. The plants are frost-tender annuals, they grow very rapidly and their stems can reach a length of 9 metres in the summer[86]. A warm summer is required for good production of the fruit[86]. British summers are often too cool for this species and obtaining a crop from outdoor-grown plants in this country is somewhat problematical. The best chance is by starting the plants off early in a warm greenhouse, growing them on fast and then planting them out as soon as possible but making sure that they are not checked by cold weather. Hand pollination of the fruits can increase fruit set[206]. A climbing plant, attaching itself to supports by means of tendrils that grow out of the leaf axils[206]. It can be used as a fast-growing summer screen. The leaves have a strong musky scent that some people find repulsive[206]. The plant is remarkably disease and pest-free, this might be connected to the smell of the leaves[206].
The original habitat is obscure, it is probably Asia or Africa.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.