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All about gourds

Birds & Blooms - - Contents - BY KAITLIN STAINBROOK


The gourd fam­ily (Cu­cur­bitaceae) con­tains about 975 plant species, in­clud­ing cu­cum­bers, pump­kins, mel­ons and squashes. Most grow fast, on vines, and are sen­si­tive to tem­per­a­tures near freez­ing.


Suikawari is a Ja­panese tra­di­tion in which blind­folded par­tic­i­pants try to split a wa­ter­melon on the ground. The of­fi­cial rules al­low for 90 sec­onds per strik­ing at­tempt.


In the early 1800s in Haiti, gourds were tem­po­rar­ily the na­tion’s of­fi­cial cur­rency. That his­tory is present to­day—haiti’s stan­dard coin is called a gourde.


Jack-o’-lan­terns to­day are usu­ally made from pump­kins, but the first can­dlelit Hal­loween glow-globe dec­o­ra­tions most likely were carved out of large turnips.


As of Oct. 9, 2016, the heav­i­est pump­kin on record weighs 2,624.6 pounds. It was grown by Mathias Willemi­jns of Bel­gium. The world record reg­u­larly changes hands—mathias took the ti­tle from Beni Meier, who earned it in 2014 for his 2,323-pound pump­kin.


Cu­cum­bers are more than 95 per­cent wa­ter, which means that they’re rel­a­tively low in sodium, calo­ries and fat. One cup of sliced cu­cum­bers con­tains about 16 calo­ries.

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