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The Science Behind Decorative Gourd Season

via Smithsonian

Imagine you open up a CSA box—a kit of produce from community supported agriculture—only to find an apple covered in ashen warts. You’d probably be inclined to kill it with fire, or at least condemn it to the compost.

But if that fruit were a species of Cucurbitaceae—the gourd family—you might have an entirely different reaction, proudly displaying the knotty, mutated produce on a console table in your foyer. Blemishes are boons in many Cucurbit fruits, and when it comes to gourds, the funkier they come, the more we cherish them. One seed supplier even champions something called a “blister gourd” as being “larger and more warted” than lesser, more symmetrical varieties.

As the leaves turn to tints of reddish-orange, it’s time to trek to farmers’ markets and pumpkin patches to bring home the knobbiest, knurliest and gnarliest Cucurbit fruits you can find—that’s right, it’s decorative gourd season once again, folks. Though their flesh be adamant and their seeds bitter, thousands of decor enthusiasts will flock to the farm to pick out gourds for arrangements spilling out of wicker baskets or piled on dining table centerpieces.

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