Storage containers, bowls, utensils, tools, masks, musical instruments, jewelry, dolls, flotation devices, toys, wheels, sieves, food, birdhouses – the list goes on and on for the many functional, spiritual, and decorative uses of the humble gourd. At this time of year, gourds abound at farmer’s markets, the grocery store, and even the backyard for some dedicated growers. This oddly shaped fruit has a colorful history – and deserves a bit of spotlight.
While not a common backyard plant today, it’s believed that gourds may be the earliest domesticated plant in North America. A previous theory held that the bottle gourd originated in Africa, carried over to the Americas via the Atlantic Ocean. But as the American Gourd Society reports, archeological and DNA evidence shows them coming from Asia more than 10,000 years ago via the Bering Strait – either by boat, by floating across the water, or carried by…
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