Fill your gourd with a few interesting facts! A little research turns up a surprising amount of information on the humble gourd. Did you know...
The first pottery makers shaped their vessels after gourds. Gourds are mentioned in the Bible and have been found in Egyptian tombs. Very early specimens discovered in Peru indicate their use as a means of recording time, religious ideas and events.
In Neolithic times, gourds were used as prosthetics. Gourd shells covered in gold leaf were also used in early brain surgeries to repair skull fractures.
By 2440 BC, people in what is now the State of Tennessee were cultivating bottle gourds and squash.
The American folk song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" helped fleeing slaves find their way along the Underground Railroad. The drinking gourd was a reference to the water dippers used by the slaves working in the fields. They were typically fashioned from long handled dipper gourds. The drinking gourd also referred to the Big Dipper, the constellation that contains the North Star. The lyrics contained escape instructions that mapped the route north from Mobile, Alabama to freedom in the Ohio Valley.
Luffa, loofah, lufah... No matter how you spell it, it's a gourd! And it's edible when it's young and tender.
Early Native Americans fashioned gourds into "water wings" (life preservers) and used them to float. They also attached them to their fishing nets.
Many tribes hung gourd birdhouses throughout their fields and villages to attract purple martins, a member of the swallow family that feeds on flies, mosquitoes, wasps and other flying insects.
Cherokee people made a poultice out of soaked gourds seeds to treat boils. Seminole tribes used gourd seeds to treat headaches, body pains, crossed fingers and "the sickness of adultery". They also burned the seeds believing the smoke could rid the body of insanity.