Herbs & Plants

Buffalo gourd

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Botanical Name :Cucurbita foetidissima
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
Species: C. foetidissima
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Common Names : Buffalo gourd, Calabazilla, Chilicote, Coyote gourd, Fetid gourd, Missouri gourd, Stinking gourd, Wild gourd, Wild pumpkin

Habitat :Buffalo gourd is a xerophytic tuberous plant found in the southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico

Buffalo gourd is a large plant which is sprawling and prostrate. The leaves can reach large dimensions. The flowers are large and yellow orange with a fringed or rolled margin. The fruits are ovoid and marked with light and dark green when fresh. Cucurbita foetidissima is found at lower to middle elevations. The crushed leaves of this plant have a foul smell, said to resemble the odor of a sweaty armpit. Other members of this family include pumpkin, cucumber and various squashes. Most of these have seeds that look similar to pumpkin or cucumber seeds.
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Edible Uses:
A member of the cucumber family, the fruit is consumed by humans and animals. The fruit is eaten cooked like a squash when very young. As the fruit becomes fully mature, it is too bitter for humans to eat.

Medicinal Uses:
Several  plant parts of buffalo gourd have medicinal attributes that tribes implement into their culture. The Isleta-Pueblo Indian boiled the roots applying the infusion to chest pains. The Tewa grind the root into a powder drinking it with cold water for laxative effects (not safe: can cause diarrhea and irritation of the digestive tract). Cahuilla Indians used to chew the pulp of the gourd and apply the pithy mass to open sores, or boil the dried root and drink the decoction as either an emetic or a physic.  A poultice of the mashed plant has been used to treat skin sores, ulcers etc. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used as a vermifuge. This is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children. The juice of the root is also disinfecting and remedies toothache. The baked fruit rubbed over rheumatic areas will relieve pain. The seeds and flowers help control swelling. The seed also acts as an effective vermicide (kills worms– Grind seed into a fine flour; mix with water and drink). The poultice of the smashed plant will remedy skin sores and ulcers.  Mix root with olive oil; apply to infected area. The pulp of the gourd was mixed with soap and applied to sores and ulcers that other poultices and plasters had failed to cure.  The supperating parts were liberally dusted with a quantity of pulverized dried seeds.  The root was used to cure a bad case of piles or kill a mass of maggots infesting an open wound.

Other Uses:
When the fruit  gets fully matured   it is used for decorative purposes or in making musical instruments, particularly rattles. The seeds are the source of buffalo gourd oil.

It grows fast (including a massive underground tuber) with little water, and some have proposed growing it for fuel or biofuel ethanol

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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