The bottle gourd is one of humankind's first domesticated plants, providing food, medicine and a wide variety of utensils and musical instruments. Vigorous annual herb. Stems prostrate or climbing, angular, ribbed, thick, brittle, softly hairy, cut stems exude no sap. Leaves simple, shortly and softly hairy, broadly egg-, kidney- or heart-shaped in outline, undivided, angular or faintly 3-7-lobed, lobes rounded, margins shallowly toothed, crushed leaves non-aromatic. Leaf stalks, often hollow, densely hairy, with two small, lateral glands inserted at the leaf base. Tendrils split in two.
Flowers stalked (female flower stalks shorter than male), solitary, monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant); petals 5, crisped, cream or white with darker veins, pale yellow at the base, obovate,opening in the evenings, soon wilting. Fruit large, variable, subglobose to cylindrical, flask-shaped or globose with a constriction above the middle; fleshy, densely hairy to ultimately glabrous, indehiscent, green, maturing yellowish or pale brown, pulp drying out completely on ripening, leaving a thick, hard, hollow shell with almost nothing inside except the seeds. Seeds many, embedded in a spongy pulp, compressed, with two flat facial ridges, in some variants rather irregular and rugose.
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