warts and all: the ‘bule’ gourd gang


I SEE PERPETUAL, DEEP LAUGHTER IN GOURDS. For that reason, all are welcome at my place; in fact, one moved in with me a few winters ago and hasn’t budged since. Meet ‘Bule’ (pronounced boo-lay). With seed-catalog season imminent, it seems like a good time for introductions to such great (if oddball) botanical companions. Ready to get acquainted?

I’m a pumpkin, squash and gourd lover bigtime, but this bumpy-faced creature is a particular favorite among the many gourds I’ve known and grown. ‘Nest Egg,’ whom I’ve introduced on A Way to Garden before, is another particular heartthrob.

Unlike ‘Nest Egg,’ which is more closely related to summer squash and those colorful mixed gourds of autumn farmstands, ‘Bule’ and its similarly warty but longer-shaped cousin ‘Verruqueuse’ or ‘African Warty’ are in another genus and species altogether. The former are Cucurbita pepo subspecies ovifera, New World types with squash-like yellow flowers. My darling ‘Bule’ is Lagenaria siceraria, originally hailing from Africa and bearing beautiful white flowers on very ambitious vines.

L. siceraria includes the familiar bottle gourd; the genus name Lagenaria derives from the Greek and Latin words for flask. My guy looks more like a giant apple (and in fact ‘Bule’ is called the ‘Blistered Apple’ in some nations, I have read).

Speaking of reading: Yes, I went down the digital rabbit hole again the last few days. That’s what happens when I go to post a simple photo of a plant I like and a little information about it. I can’t help myself, and I quickly start reading, and reading, and reading. Next time I look up, it’s days later, and I’ve studied gourds in philately (like the African stamp at left), gourd poetry, gourds in archaeological digs and gourd crafting that would make Martha proud.

You can order ‘Bule’ (the cured guy in the center of the photo below) from Territorial Seed, or perhaps ‘African Warty’ from Sand Hill Preservation Center, which is a.k.a. ‘Verruqueuse’ (flanking ‘Bule’ in the picture) at Baker Creek, where they have ‘Bule,’ too. Or you will be able to order any moment now, once the 2009 catalogs are all officially ready, that is.

Can’t possibly wait till next fall for a somewhat-comical constant companion? Order a ready-to-move-in cured one, warty or otherwise, by mail from Wuertz, an Arizona farm that produces more than 200,000 fruits a year. Yup: two-hundred-thousand reasons to laugh on one single piece of land. My idea of heaven.

  1. Johanna says:

    I just love the bumpy, warty, odd colored gourds! A pumpkin farm up the road from me tries new ones each year; I’m always happily surprised to see what they have on display when I go for an October outing.

    And now I’m reminded to relocate my sagging pumpkins (once frozen, always forever sagging!) before they disintegrate and my front walk becomes a pumpkin patch next year. Not that it would be such a terrible thing…


  2. Amy says:

    The bumpy, warty gourds have so much personality don’t they? I would love to try growing some of these. My children would probably enjoy the experience too.

  3. chris says:

    @ amy, take it from me, your kids aren’t going to go for these gourds….unless they like coodies and such

    actually, methinks most adults will need a shot of ole johnnie before they handle one!

  4. margaret says:

    At least Johanna and Amy understand me…Chris, well, we hear the beat of a different drummer but are happy to have “met,” anyhow, right Chris? :) What do you mean COOTIES? All my gourds have had their cootie shots, thank you very much.

  5. dawndol says:

    Hi, Margaret! Excellent gourds! Here’s my biggest concern – are they delicious? Can we eat them? :) I am looking for gourds to grow next year (in the Pac. NW) and definitely prefer interesting, but they must must must make a good soup!

  6. margaret says:

    Hello, Dawn. I don’t think you’ll be cooking up anything even remotely savory with gourds. Stick with their cousins the summer or winter squash, not gourds. The catalogs I listed in the story have good selections of all, and some of the squashes are quite attractive (though not so long-lasting decoratively).

  7. dawndol says:

    Ha ha! I have revealed my garden noob status (as opposed to garden gnome…) and am delighted to have learned yet another thing from your blog! No gourd soup for me! :)

  8. Mouse4 says:

    The catalog season is not imminent at my house, but rather has already arrived as of two weeks ago. Current count…three. Ah Bliss!

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