Gourd Seeds Bowling Green KY
Bowling Green, KY
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Plants with a Purpose
We are surrounded by plants and plant products everywhere we go. We depend on plants for the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the shelter and clothes that protect us from the elements. Some of our interactions are quite obvious, such as with the plants that end up on the dinner table and those that decorate our landscapes. But we also come in contact with many plant products and plant-inspired inventions, though we may not immediately recognize their green origins. This article focuses on the utilitarian side of plants, with the goals of helping you broaden your students' perspectives about the role of plants in our lives and to foster more wonder and greater respect for our green friends.Background
Plants have always played a central role in the everyday workings of human societies. Investigating their historical utility can help kids understand cultural and technological evolution and how plants serve as inspiration for inventions. The process never stops: scientists, engineers, and inventors make discoveries and develop new technologies, many which result in the replacement of plant-based products with man-made ones. On the flip side, we are daily finding new uses for plants and the materials they contain, from alternative fuel sources to medicines. By exploring these less obvious uses for plants, students may develop more interest in and a deeper respect for nature…and perhaps feel stimulated to pursue some inventions of their own!
To get you started on this green adventure, below are details about six historically important plants: gourds, horsetail, papyrus, lamb’s ear, indigo, and willow.Gourds
Archeologists have found evidence that wherever there were gourds, ancient civilizations put them to use. Cucurbita gourds are believed to be native to the Americas. These ornamental gourds come in many bright colors and varying shapes and sizes, and are commonly used for tabletop decorations. When dried the brittle shells can crack easily. The plants produce yellow flowers that open during the day.
Lagenaria gourds, such a bottle gourds and calabash, are the toughest and most versatile of the group. Archaeologists believe that Lagenaria originated in tropical areas of Africa, and evidence suggests that the buoyant fruits traveled by ocean currents and dispersed their seed on other continents. Some species grow quite large and when dried their hard shells are as tough as wood. They are sturdy enough to serve as food vessels, utensils, storage containers, musical instruments, even buoys for fishing nets -- and people have used them in all these different ways for millennia! Here in the North America they are the favorite gourd of crafters and artists. They produce white flowers that bloom at night.
Luffa gourds are also known as the vegetable sponge. Luffas are native to India, where people eat the unripe fruits like cucumbers. Once luffas mature, their outer shell hardens, the inside dries out, and the fibrous i...