Once corn season is in full swing, gourds aren’t far behind—at least in much of North America, where pumpkins and their many cousins are typically harvested starting in September.
But even if Mother Nature thinks it’s time for pumpkins, acorn squash, and those warty-and-whimsical decorative gourds, that doesn’t mean we all do. Because if you’re among the people who associate gourds with Halloween and the Thanksgiving table, it’s a bit jarring to see these harbingers of the holidays already piling up at the supermarket when the thermostat still reaches into the 80s.
That’s right: “holiday creep” has begun (Halloween candy in July?)—even if you can still find juicy, ripe tomatoes and nectarines at the farmers market. And with holiday marketing comes not just fun-sized candy bars, but also the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everything, from lattes to M&M’s to Peeps.
But the world of gourds goes far beyond jack-o-lanterns and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes. There are hundreds of varieties of gourds, some soft and edible (like bitter gourd and acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squashes), and others with shells that harden as they age. Around the world, gourds have been transformed into bowls, cups, spoons, masks, musical instruments, bird houses … you name it (check out these incredible lamps and see Carving My Dreams into a Gourd).
If you’re not out of your gourd yet, take a look at some of our favorite photos of gourds of all shapes and sizes, brought to you from our Your Shot community.