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Are Eggplants Gourds? 

Are Eggplants Gourds

Eggplants aren’t gourds because they come from the Solanaceae or nightshade family and are cultivated to be eaten.

Gourds are a classification of fruits of the Cucurbitaceae family that are grown for decorative use. They’re usually hollow with a hard shell.

Meanwhile, raw eggplants have a firm yet spongy flesh that becomes soft and tender when cooked.

What is an eggplant?

What is an eggplant
Image: PhotographyCourse on Unsplash
Scientific NameSolanum melongena
Common Name(s)Eggplant AubergineGuinea squashBrinjal
FamilySolanaceae (Nightshade)

The eggplant is a warm-season plant that is native to India and China. In both countries, eggplant is a kitchen staple and has been grown for more than 1,500 years.

It wasn’t until the early 1800s that the Spaniards distributed eggplant across the Americas and Europe. However, the eggplant wasn’t as well-liked as other vegetables.

It took several decades before eggplant became a welcomed vegetable in different cuisines across the globe. Today, it’s a well-loved ingredient that’s prepared in a variety of creative ways.

The eggplant is a perennial plant, which means that it can produce several fruits within 3 or more growing seasons. Even then, they’re typically only grown as annuals, especially in colder climates.

Eggplants are rather bushy plants with thick stems and multiple branches. Its leaves are typically big, lobed, and coarse with a spiny fuzz-coated underside.  

In ideal growing conditions, they can reach heights of about 60 inches or 150 centimeters, at most. However, the vast majority of eggplants are rather stout and generally don’t grow any taller than 31 inches or 80 centimeters.

They develop star-shaped flowers that come in white, purple, or yellow depending on the variant. While they’re mainly self-pollinating, cross-pollination can happen through bees, wasps, butterflies, and even small mammals, among others.

The most common type of eggplant is the globe or American variety, which is considered the biggest and fattest of all the eggplant varieties. It’s stout, plump, and comes in a glossy, deep purple color.

Other popular cultivars include the Japanese and Chinese eggplants which are typically a light purple hue with a long, narrow, oblong-shaped body. This has fewer seeds and tastes less bitter than other kinds.

Eggplants come in various shapes and lengths depending on the cultivar. In fact, some even come in bicolor or striped skins.

What are gourds?

What are gourds?
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The word gourd is actually a classification for fruits of the Cucurbitaceae family, specifically from the genus Lagenaria and Cucurbita.

Gourds are hard-skinned, often hollow, fruits that are grown for decorative use. In fact, they’re historically known to have been made into water bottles, storage containers, dippers, and utensils.

Today, they’re most popularly used to create ornamental Thanksgiving decorations, luffa sponges, vases, bowls, and even musical instruments such as maracas and drums.

Since many popular fruits and vegetables come from the Cucurbitaceae family such as pumpkins and squash, they typically are mistakenly referred to as gourds.

Despite sharing a couple of similarities such as having tough skin, pumpkins and squash are primarily grown for consumption. They also have a fleshy core with many seeds.

Are eggplants gourds?

Are eggplants gourds
Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

More often than not, eggplants are commonly referred to as squash or gourd due to several similarities. However, eggplants aren’t even related to gourds.

Eggplants come from the Solanaceae or nightshade family while a gourd is a classification for fruits from the Cucurbitaceae family.

Gourds are usually hard-shelled whereas eggplants have thin, glossy skin. Apart from that, eggplants have a firm yet spongy core whereas gourds are generally hollow.

Eggplants aren’t gourds because they’re primarily grown for consumption. Meanwhile, gourds are cultivated for ornamental purposes.

What vegetables are in the same family as eggplants?

What vegetables are in the same family as eggplants
Image: Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Other members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Tobacco

They’re typically characterized for being fast-growing shrubs or trees that often need a lot of space to grow properly. 

For tomatoes and peppers, this is in the form of cages or trellises to keep them upright. Meanwhile, potatoes need deep rows of dirt for their shoots.

Another trait is that they typically have a branched tap root system. Hence, they tend to get bushy, growing big, alternate leaves along with 5-petal flowers.

It’s interesting to note that they have various life cycles, being able to grow as perennials, biennials, or even annuals. 

Hence, if the conditions are right, members of the Solanaceae can be grown all year round.


What vegetable does eggplant taste similar to?

Eggplants taste similar to summer squashes and zucchini. All of these vegetables have a relatively mild taste that’s somewhat sweet with a hint of vegetal bitterness.

Is eggplant considered a superfood?

Eggplant is a well-loved superfood because it’s a high-fiber, low-calorie vegetable that’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 

Can I eat the other parts of an eggplant?

You cannot eat the other parts of an eggplant, especially raw, because it has a toxin called alkaloids, which can cause nausea, vomiting, throat inflammation, and heart arrhythmias.

Are eggplants fruits or vegetables?

Contrary to popular belief, eggplants are actually botanically classified as fruits and not vegetables. This is because it’s conceived from a pollinated flower. 
Even then, eggplants are more accurately classified as berries. This is attributed to how they grow from a single carpel of one flower and because they have tiny, edible seeds.

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