Mind-blowing facts about gourds

I hope you're having a happy decorative gourd season! Gourds, the versatile fruits from one of the earliest domesticated plants, have a very long and storied history: they've served as containers, telephones (sort of), utensils, instruments, clothing, loofahs, weapons, and autumnal decorations. Here are some good gourd facts.

  1. Have you ever wondered where loofahs (scrubby shower thing) come from? Gourds! You can even grow your own. I should note that there are also plastic loofahs which do not come from gourds.
  2. 1200 years ago, humans used gourds to make a crude telephone. They connected two gourds with 75 feet of cotton-twine, creating a device that transmitted sound. The artifact is now in Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
  3. Bottle gourds were domesticated an estimated 12,000-13,000 years ago, making them one of the first species ever domesticated. One paper says that gourds "join the dog as a second 'utilitarian species' brought under domestication by humans long before any plants or animals worldwide were targeted for domestication as food sources."
  4. Indonesia once led an attempt called "Operasi Koteka" to get people in Papua to stop wearing penis gourds (called koteka) and instead wear modern, Western clothes. It failed miserably. A publication from the Textile Society of America notes "the impact it did have to elevate the koteka's status and make it a symbol of local identify.
  5. In battle, the Mayans threw gourds filled with hornets at their enemies.