Ornamental Gourds

Ornamental gourds are Cucurbita pepo variety ovifera, members of the same plant family as many squash. Their day-blooming yellow flowers look like zucchini or summer squash blossoms. Today, ornamentals are grown largely for their bright colors, which rarely last after drying. Some gourd growers call them “softshells” because their shells are much thinner than hardshells. Properly harvested and cured, they can make attractive, if less sturdy, craft items.

  • Apple: A white, round gourd the size of an apple.
  • Crown of Thorns: Also finger, Ten Commandments or holy gourd. A creamy or green striped (Shinot) gourd, this gourd is a 4-inch oblong shape with a ring of thorns or fingers around the blossom end.
  • Egg: Also nest egg. The characteristic shape, color and size mimic a hen’s egg. Traditional uses are as a darning egg or to place in nests to trick hens.
  • Flat: A green-striped, button-shaped gourd about 3 inches in diameter.
  • Orange: In shape, color and size, like the fruit.
  • Pear: Green-striped and white versions, the size and shape of the fruit.
  • Spoon: Like a 6-inch dipper gourd, brightly colored green and yellow. It could be split longwise to make two spoons. Doll heads.
  • Warty: A most often orange, often pear-shaped gourd densely covered with protrusions like warts.

Copyright Mary Ann Rood April 7, 1998