Many Uses for Buffalo Gourds

(Frank) Okay, I do hear the seeds in- (Deb) See, you hear them in there. They have been used for rattles and everything. This is our haul from the other night. A baseball. There is no end to the uses for these Frank. There’s just no end. These are like little babies, right here, I just pulled the – (Frank) I see. (Deb) Yes, pulled the piece off so you could see that. All right, I had a nice crop of these going in my barnyard, and I had picked these two. These are obviously the prettiest in the bunch, aren’t they Frank? Wouldn’t you agree that those are the nicest? (Deb) All right, these are the nicest in the great barn thing. They do look like little watermelons. Alright, I go back out the other night, and I’m going to pick these so I can bring them in here and show them to you guys, and I go out there, and our horses have stomped all over that vine. (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) There wasn’t a thing left. I was so mad. Dr. Jake and I get in the pickup and we drive around the mile section right there, looking if anybody had pulled up behind us, looking for vines and of course it’s almost dark, and I’m blind as a bat anyway, which is why it took me a couple of shots to shoot the snake the other day. But he spotted these, and he went out and picked these out for me. I couldn’t even see him in the grass. (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) Honestly, he had to pick them all for me. But I just love these things. You can see they start drying, and I’ll talk about this in the segment, about all the uses, but I just think they make wonderful decorations; you could paint them. This could be a snowman, Frank. (Frank) [Laughs] You can make yourself a Carmen Miranda hat. (Deb) [Laughs] You could be replaced, you know that? (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) You’re going to love seeing this gourd segment, I know. Back to the barnyard for another versatile plant lesson! This unassuming plant has many names: buffalo gourd, calabazilla, chilicote, coyote gourd, fetid gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, Missouri gourd, prairie gourd, stinking gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin. It clings to the roadsides in central and western Kansas, and is ideally suited to the plains, having adapted to semi-arid climates and sandy soil. It does not require a lot of rain. One reference said that it is particularly well suited to “marginal agricultural lands.” According to the website, Medicinal Plants of the Southwest, American Indians have used this little gourd for thousands of years. It has been used traditionally in various ways as a food, cosmetic, detergent, insecticide, and ritualistic rattle, said the site. The plant is easily recognized as being a member of the squash or gourd family by the large, yellow, trumpet bloom common to squash or pumpkins. It grows quickly, and with a very long taproot, helps hold the soil in place, though some consider it a nuisance. The taproot can be several feet long and weigh over a hundred pounds. It has been used for laundry soap and shampoo. The website described medicinal uses as everything from a pain reliever to a de-wormer, disinfectant to ulcer cure. As a source of food, the gourd may be cooked like squash when it is young and the seeds may be roasted or ground into meal when the gourd browns. I picked them to dry and decorate. Since painting gourds with my Granny, I have loved their versatility and beauty and these are perfect for crafting. Like so many things beneath our feet, this common little gourd is not so common after all.

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