Herb: Bottle Gourd

Latin name: Lagenaria siceraria

Synonyms: Lagenaria vulgaris

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Bottle Gourd:

The pulp around the seed is emetic and purgative. A poultice of the crushed leaves has been applied to the head to treat headaches. The flowers are an antidote to poison. The stem bark and the rind of the fruit are diuretic. The fruit is antilithic, diuretic, emetic and refrigerant. The juice of the fruit is used in the treatment of stomach acidity, indigestion and ulcers. The seed is vermifuge. A poultice of the boiled seeds has been used in the treatment of boils. Taken with Achyranthes spp the seed is used to treat aching teeth and gums, boils etc. Extracts of the plant have shown antibiotic activity. 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.

Description of the plant:

Annual Climber

9 m
(30 feet)

August to

Annual Climber

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Bottle Gourd:

Immature fruit - cooked and used as a vegetable. They can be boiled, steamed, fried, used in curries or made into fritters. Of variable quality, but some of the selected cultivars from India and China are of very good quality, equivalent to good summer squashes. The pulp around the seed is purgative and should not be eaten. The fruit can be dried for later use. Leaves and young shoots - cooked and used as a potherb. Seed - cooked. Rich in oil, it is added to soups etc. A vegetable curd, similar to tofu, can be made from the seed. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is used for cooking. Yields of up to 45% have been obtained.

Other uses of the herb:

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.

Propagation of Bottle Gourd:

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 25C. Soaking the seeds for 12 hours in warm water prior to sowing can hasten germination. Discard any seeds that have not germinated after 10 days, the plants they produce will not be vigorous enough to succeed outdoors in Britain.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Lagenaria siceraria:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.