Learn About Dinosaur Gourd Plants

By Bonnie Grant | November 19, 2015
by Bonnie Grant
November 19, 2015

Ok, you are in for a real treat when you get your first glimpse of dinosaur gourd plants. The Lagenaria family to which they belong has traditionally been used as décor for sweat lodges. Today, its uses encompass crafts and art. The armored ridges in the fruit have a decidedly prehistoric feel and evoke images of Stegosaurs, Triceratops and other ancient animals, hence the cool name!

The History of Gourds

Gourds are generally not edible and have been used as ornamental items, birdhouses, art projects and traditional bowls and household items. Gourds are among the oldest cultivated plants and are thought to have originated in Africa and brought to the Americas around 10,000 years ago, initially to Central America. The history of gourds is actually quite muddy, with 3 possible introductions over the centuries. The plant’s popularity increased with the advent of tourism and gourd art brought home from far away adventures. Vividly patterned gourds are high on the souvenir list and make excellent gifts.

Dinosaur gourd plants (Lagenaria siceraria), also known as Caveman’s Club and Maranka, were given to early settlers by a Cherokee nation member in Louisiana. The fruit’s unique club-like appearance has made it a popular fall décor item and aided in its resurgence as a crop.

Growing Dinosaur Gourds

Dinosaur gourds are such fun plants to grow, especially with children. Even a curmudgeon like me finds them delightfully tongue in cheek with their wrinkled skin and coy curved necks. The rind is a glossy deep emerald color, which fades when you cure the fruits. It has a hard carapace, difficult to cut into, but often carved or painted. Northern gardeners may have trouble growing dinosaur gourds because they need a long season, at least 120 days before you can harvest.

Gourds are started by seed when all danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds in prepared soil mounded into hills spaced 6 feet apart. Place 6 to 8 seeds per hill and thin them later to the best 3 or 4 plants. For quicker germination, soak the seeds in a damp paper towel inside a closed bag in a warm location. After a couple of days, the seeds will sprout and you can plant them in the hill. Provide your plants with some sort of structure over which to grow, such as a fence or trellis. This will ensure uniform formation of the gourds.

Harvest the gourds when they are 12-18 inches long, although some can grow up to 2 feet in length. Cure the gourd by hanging it dry before you start an art project. This will ensure a long-lasting fruit, which can bear your efforts for years to come.

Tell us what you think: Leave a comment
1 person is already talking about this.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Throw Back Thursdays
Did you find this helpful? Share it with your friends!

Get our latest eBook, “Bring Your Garden Indoors: 13 DIY Projects for the Fall and Winter”

As the seasons change, it’s time to think about bringing your garden indoors. From creating an indoor garden to using natural decor for your holiday decorations, our latest eBook features 13 of our favorite DIY projects for the whole family.

 Happy holidays from all of us at Gardening Know How.

  • Cedar Smith
    Comment added March 6, 2017Reply

    Very cool plants. They make great shade with their huge leaves, but require a lot of tying to keep them on a trellis as they are constantly sending shoots out looking for more sun. The trellis needs to be strong (they are heavy). Also, gourds that grow hanging will have straight necks, while those on the ground will often grow with curved necks that are more esthetically pleasing. I have had gophers chew holes in them and eat the seeds.

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Join Us - Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips!