A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Some gourds are edible and others are ornamental and utilitarian. This article is confined to the discussion of ornamental and utilitarian gourd types. There are three basic categories of ornamental and utilitarian gourds:
Gourds of the Lagenaria family are hard-shelled and very fleshy; they are approximately 90% water when they are harvested in the fall. These gourds require 6 months or more to dry. They are large & utilitarian, averaging 9" to 12" diameter or more.
Refer to this chart from the American Gourd Society website to see an artist's rendering of the hard shell gourds listed below.
The Cucurbita ornamental gourds are smaller than the Lagenaria family of gourds. They also have a lower water content, but are more difficult to cure. The small fruits are colorful and varied in shape. These gourds must be harvested before the first frost or they will be ruined. Ornamental gourds may be polished with floor wax to enhance the colors and to help preserve the gourd. The skin color begins to fade in 4 to 5 months.
Refer to this chart from the American Gourd Society website to see an artist's rendering of the ornamental gourds listed below.
Luffa gourds are sometimes called "vegetable sponges", "sponge gourds", or "dishrag gourds" because of their tough, fibrous interior. Once the gourd is dried and cleaned, the sponge inside is removed and prepared for use. The sponge may be used as a bath sponge and is also used in making soap. See this article from the American Gourd Society website more information on luffa gourds.
Some common types of Luffa are listed below.