Lagenaria siceraria

Lagenaria siceraria
(Ipu – Calabash gourd))

Cucurbitaceae | Mala Maununu

Native To:

Tropical Asia, Africa

Plant Status:

Secure

Plant Habit:

Vine, about 1 m (3 ft) long

Plant Habitat:

Warm, wet climate

Cultural Uses

Although it’s known that the first Polynesians who came to the islands brought these ipu with them to store supplies, it’s also possible that the seeds floated here inside the gourds. Ipu had many uses in ancient Hawaii, such as medicine and storage for water, food, and dyes. It’s still used today to make various instruments that are used in traditional Hawaiian song and dance.

Interesting Fact

The ipu is a kinolau (Hawaiian word for the physical manifestation of a god or goddess) of Lono, the god of agriculture and rain. Thus, it was believed that people’s shadows should never cover the flower because it would be disrespectful.

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