Gourds are in the same family as squash and pumpkins.
There are 2 major kinds of gourds, soft shell and hard shell gourds. The soft shelled gourds are basically those ornamental gourds we see around fall time that are used as temporary decorations. Hard shelled gourds are just that, hard shelled. When dry they become wood-like and can last forever. There are a variety of sizes and shapes of hard shelled gourds from the very small finger size gourds to whimsical bird shaped to the very large round gourds.
Gourds have adapted to most of the different growing climates of the world. They can be found all over the world including Africa, Asia, and South and North America, Europe and Australia. Gourds were originally used primarily as utensils and containers for carrying and storing material. Today they are still used for utilitarian purposes in some regions. Recently they have become a material used for artistic endeavors.
Today there are gourd groups, called “patches” that are scattered throughout the world. In the United States, there are patches in almost all of the states, some having several patches.