GOURD, Birdhouse Bottle
Cucurbita pepo. Lagenaria siceraria
Seeds per packet ~ 12
Germination 92% Packed for 2024
The Birdhouse Bottle gourd, scientifically known as Lagenaria siceraria, is a variety of hard-shelled gourd that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. This plant is cultivated not for food but for its durable and interestingly shaped fruits, which can be dried and transformed into birdhouses, hence the name. The fruits have a distinctive bottle-like shape, with a rounded, bulbous base and a narrow, neck-like top, making them ideal for crafting into homes for birds when dried and hollowed out.
The bottle gourd probably originated in Africa and from there was transported to Asia. Some theorize that the gourd floated on the Indian Ocean across to Asia. It's more widely accepted that the spread of Lagenaria siceraria from Africa to Asia was facilitated by human migration and trade routes.
Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have used bottle gourds as containers, fishing floats, and in other utilitarian and ceremonial capacities for thousands of years. As people migrated out of Africa and into Asia, they likely carried bottle gourd seeds with them, intentionally planting and cultivating them in new areas. This spread could have occurred during the Neolithic period, as humans transitioned from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to more settled, agricultural societies..
The Birdhouse Bottle Gourd traveled to India, where it has evolved into numerous local varieties, and from India to China, Indonesia, and as far as New Zealand.
The gourds are typically light green when young and turn a tan or brown color as they mature and dry. The surface of the gourd can be smooth or slightly textured. The fruits can grow quite large, often reaching lengths of up to 12 inches (30 cm) or more, with a diameter of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) at the base.
The Birdhouse Bottle gourd plant is a vigorous vine that can grow several meters in length. It has large, broad leaves and white, nocturnal flowers that are often pollinated by moths. The plant is typically grown as an annual and requires a long growing season with warm temperatures to fully develop its fruits.
The Birdhouse Bottle Gourd thrives in warm, sunny conditions and is sensitive to frost. It prefers well-drained, fertile soil but can adapt to a range of soil types. It also requires regular watering, especially during dry periods, but does not tolerate waterlogged conditions. It needs a trellis, fence, or similar support structure for the vines to climb on.
Once dried, the gourds are hollowed out and can be turned into birdhouses, decorative items, musical instruments, and various utilitarian objects. The hard shell of the mature gourd lends itself well to carving, painting, and other decorative techniques.
Adding birdhouses made from these gourds to gardens can attract birds, which help with pest control and pollination.