Lau or Bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria

Lau or Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria, family: Cucurbitaceae) is an annual vine with pubescent and angular stem and tendrils, attaining a length of 5 m. It is one of the most popular and widely cultivated vegetables in Bangladesh. It is grown as a homestead vegetable in almost every household in the village. Whole plant is consumed by the locals of the country except roots. The much-branched climber is probably originated in tropical Africa. Now it is found throughout the Asia and other tropics as well as some temperate areas of Asia, Africa and Americas. 

Other names: Kodu, Pani lau (Bang); Calabash, Club gourd, White-flowered gourd (Eng).

Leaves are thin, multilobed (5-9 usually), broadly ovate, 8-32 cm long and wide too, puberulous both sides, palmately veined, irregularly toothed, deeply cordate at base and tip acute, petiole 8-24 cm long, thick, hollow sometimes.

The plant is monoeceous. Flowers are usually white, but can be yellow too. Male flowers' peduncle is as long as the petiole, females' are shorter, 10-15 cm wide, petals 5. 

Fruits are edible, berry, huge in size. These are variabe in size, shape and color. These can be round or cylindric, light green or dark green with numerous white or yellowish marks, usually 40-60 cm long. seeds numerous, obovate-oblong, 8-18 cm long. 

Flowering and fruiting occur almost year round but mostly from Nov-May. The fast-growing climber is propagated by seeds.  

The friut juice is used as medicine in rheumatism and piles somewhere in Indian subcontinent. A kind of oil is obtained from its seedes and used in headache. Leaves are used in burnt skin. Fruit pulp is believed purgative, diuretic, cooling and emetic. 

Fruit is eaten as deliceous vegetable in the country. Leaves, stems, flowers, fruit skin, even fried seeds are eaten by locals too. Dried fruits are used in making musical instruments. 

Synonyms: Cucumis bicirrha, Cucumis lagenaria, Cucumis mairei, Cucurbita ciceraria, Cucurbita idolatrica, Cucurbita idololatrica, Cucurbita lagenaria, Cucurbita lagenaria var. oblonga, Cucurbita lagenaria var. villosa, Cucurbita leucantha, Cucurbita pyriformis, Cucurbita siceraria, Cucurbita vittata, Lagenaria bicornuta, Lagenaria idolatrica, Lagenaria lagenaria, Lagenaria leucantha, Lagenaria leucantha var. depressa, Lagenaria leucantha var. makinoi, Lagenaria leucantha var. microcarpa, Lagenaria microcarpa, Lagenaria siceraria var. depressa, Lagenaria siceraria var. laevisperma, Lagenaria siceraria var. microcarpa, Lagenaria siceraria var. siceraria, Lagenaria vulgaris, Lagenaria vulgaris subsp. afrikana, Lagenaria vulgaris subsp. asiatica, Lagenaria vulgaris var. depressa, Lagenaria vulgaris var. microcarpa.


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