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Flowers, Fragrance, and Food: Lagenaria siceraria ‘Cucuzzi’

Cucuzzi in the evening.


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Cucuzzi in the morning.

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Cucuzzi all around: ornamental, fragrant, edible, and a rapid grower.

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Because this vine is an edible gourd, it takes the same rich soil, water, and heat that garden squashes do. But its flowers are more delicate, and, like all gourds, white-at least in the evening, when it first opens and gives you a chance to inhale a fresh, gentle fragrance. If you plant them by your door, as I did, they can greet you coming home from work. By morning, they’ve turned a gentle pale tan.

Cucuzzi seeds are different from squash seeds, too: more or less rectangular, with stubby little antennae on each end.

Unlike squash, the smaller leaves of cucuzzi won’t overpower everything else.

In fact, I think they mix quite fetchingly with these Oriental lilies. (I’m a sucker for tendrils.)

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I first heard about cucuzzi in The 20-Minute Gardener, Tom Christopher and Marty Asher’s treatise on how not to let gardening take over your life. Gardeners who take things too seriously should be laid in a hammock with this book and a nice glass of lemon balm iced tea.

The only bad thing about The 20-Minute Gardener is that it lacks an index, so I must flip through page after page to find the entry. And after some flipping, I did find one, but not one with the recipe I remembered. Oh well.

These Italian-bred young gourds can be eaten like summer squash. Rumor has it that they are even more flavorful than regular summer squash, but so far I’ve had only male flowers, so I can’t report. I am happy to find a vine that looks as if it’s going over the top of my trellis-shade, fragrant flowers, and fruit all in one season.

And I really like my garden chair.

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References:

Tom Christopher and Marty Asher, The 20-Minute Gardener, Random House, 1997

JL Hudson – you can get cucuzzi seeds here.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Barbee' August 16, 2008, 4:55 pm

    Well, that’s a new one on me. I would like to try it. I never have room for many plants like that. Wonder how many seeds to a package. I will go to the source you provided and see if they say. Might be a candidate for seed sharing. It is pretty, isn’t it. Thank you.

  • Northern Shade August 16, 2008, 6:36 pm

    Plants that do triple duty in the garden are always a bonus. A fragrant vine by the door sounds lovely, and the edible gourd is the icing on the cake.
    Your last photo looks like the vine is the one relaxing and ready for an iced tea.

  • Pomona Belvedere August 18, 2008, 1:56 pm

    I think there are something like 20 seeds to a package, so it’s not overwhelming, but you’d probably want to share some of them.

    It’s true: the cucuzzi does look as if it’s ready for its iced tea! I guess I’ll have to add that to my round of plant-feeding chores…

  • Lee Johnson September 12, 2009, 12:26 pm

    I stumbled onto seeds at a local farmer’s exchange and tried them this summer. I planted late, but they grew very quickly, taking over the entire 4X8 raised bed, the beds on both sides, the fence behind, crossed the garden path and climbed the tomato cages… they took over. The leaves smell like burnt coffee – very strong odor/fragrence. The flowers are so pretty! We plan to build an overhead trellis this fall so we can give them more space next year. Hudson Seeds doesn’t offer Lagenaria siceraria? I didn’t see them. Please help. These are wonderful!

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