Gourd, the hard-shelled fruit of a climbing or trailing vine, also called a gourd, related to the cucumber, melon, pumpkin, and squash. In North America, gourds are used mainly for ornament. Many species of gourds grow wild in the tropics.

GourdsGourds are large, hard-shelled vegetables related to squash and pumpkins.

Most gourds are annuals. They have long, rough vines with tendrils. The fruit is a large, fleshy berry called a pepo. It contains many seeds and has a hard rind. The flowers, either yellow or white, are large and bell-shaped. The leaves are large and deeply lobed. Gourds thrive without cultivation in warm, moist, rich soil. The vines climb rapidly on trellises or other supports, or sprawl on the ground.

The hedgehog, or teasel, gourd is named for its bristly bur-like fruit. The wax gourd is named for its wax-covered edible fruit. The calabash, bottle, or dipper, gourd bears a club-shaped fruit that is used as a dipper or bowl by people in tropical South America. The dishcloth, or sponge, gourd bears a fruit with a fibrous interior that is used to make bath sponges called loofahs.

The hedgehog gourd is Cucumis dipsaceus; wax, Benincasa hispida; calabash, Lagenaria siceria or L. vulgaris; dishcloth, Luffa aegyptiaca, or L. cylindrica. Gourds belong to the family Cucurbitaceae.