The words gourd and calabash are often used interchangeably. Both can be defined as a "hard-shell durable fruit grown for ornament, utensils and general interest" (L.H. Bailey, Garden of Gourds, 1937). However, the gourd (see Fig. 1) is native to the continent of Africa and grows on a vine. The calabash (see Fig. 2) is indigenous to tropical America and grows on a tree.
Due to human migration, the gourd can be found in tropical and semi-tropical zones throughout the world. Gourds can also be found in the more temperate climates of California and the Southern United States.
This titan of the plant kingdom is durable, light-weight and watertight. And, it grows in an array of shapes, sizes and textures (see Fig. 3).
Fig. 1 Gourds in a field. Photo by Sala Faruq.
Fig. 3 Warty and canteen gourds. Photo by Sala Faruq.