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Any of certain hard-shelled food and ornamental plants of the family Cucurbitaceae (order Violales), including squashes and pumpkins. Most species are prostrate or climb by tendrils. They are annual herbaceous plants native to temperate and tropical areas. Gourds are generally low in nutrients; one exception is winter squash (certain cultivars of Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata, C. pepo, etc.). The shells of many gourds have made them useful as containers and utensils. Colourful and oddly shaped gourds are picked for ornamental use.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gourd, visit Britannica.com.