Economic Botany

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 265–273 | Cite as

The Pre-Columbian distribution of the bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicerarid): A Re-evaluation

  • James B. Richardson


Recently, Whitaker (1971: 327) has reaffirmed his position that the bottle gourd is indigenous to Africa and may have been diffused either by transoceanic drift or by human transport. The evidence elaborated herein, however, supports the conclusions that (1)Lagenaria is not a monotypic genus and had an ancient pantropical distribution; (2) human utilization ofLagenaria is at least 15,000 years old in the New World and 12,000 years in the Old World; (3) the early dates for the use ofLagenaria are far too early convincingly to suggest transoceanic diffusion by man, although drifting of gourds from Africa or Asia may have occurred; (4) the earliest use ofLagenaria was probably as a wild plant in the context of a hunting and gathering society; and (5)Lagenaria was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.


Economic Botany Peru Ecuador Radiocarbon Date Bottle Gourd 
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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • James B. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh

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