The bottle gourd is a vine species, probably originating from tropical Africa, that has been transported and cultivated by humans since ancient times mainly for its fruit. This species is considered one of the most widely distributed plants in the world due to its long history of domestication. Plants can grow up to 5 m long and are shallow-rooted with an extensive lateral root system. Even where this species is known almost exclusively in cultivation, it often escapes from cultivation and can be found naturalized along riversides, roadsides, dry thickets, savannahs and in areas near villages. The bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria)
is a species of environmental concern because it is a vigorous and fast-growing vine that often grows over other plant species, displacing and outcompeting them for water, nutrients and sunlight.
The bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria
) is a vigorous, annual, running or climbing vine with large leaves and a lush appearance. It grows fast and may begin to flower only 2 months after seeding. The vine is branched and climbs by means of tendrils along the stem. The foliage is covered with soft hairs and has a foul musky odor when crushed. The leaves of the bottle gourd are up to 15 inches wide, circular in overall shape, with smooth margins, a few broad lobes, or with undulate margins. Leaves have a velvety texture because of the fine hairs, especially on the undersurface. The bottle gourd flowers are borne singly on the axils of the leaves, the males on long peduncles and the females on short peduncles. The flowers are white and attractive, up to 4 inches in diameter, with spreading petals. The ovary is inferior and in the shape of the fruit. Otherwise, the male and female flowers are similar in appearance. The anthers are borne on short filaments grouped at the center of the flower. The stigmas are short, thickened, and branched. The brownish seeds are numerous in a whitish green pulp. Each seed is somewhat rectangular in shape with grooved notches near the attached end.
The fruits are edible and traditionally used in the treatment of jaundice, diabetes, ulcer, piles, colitis, insanity, hypertension, congestive cardiac failure, and skin diseases. It is used as a emetic, purgative, cooling, sedative, antibilious, and pectoral. Its pulp, boiled in oil is used to treat Rheumatism.