Origin, Distribution and Uses
Ash Gourd derives its name due to the colour of the skin of the fruit which is Ash, In some regions the skin of the Ash Gourd is having a waxy shine and hence it is called, Wax Gourd. The Ash Gourd can be cultivated even during rainy seasons and hence the name, Winter Gourd.
It originated from South Asia including India, where mention of the fruit finds place in Ayurvedic preparations for the medicinal properties and it is mentioned by the name of 'Kushmanda' in Sanskrit. It is widely grown throughout South and South East Asia, including Myanmar, Malaysia, China, Japan and almost all countries of South East Asia as a prominent crop. It does not grow in Western Countries, since it cannot survive the extreme cold.
It has medicinal properties and is used in the Ayurvedic preparation, 'Kushmanda Rasayana' in India. According to various studies made recently, the Ash Gourd is capable of treating many health related issues. It has anti cancer qualities. It is said to have properties for treating diabetes, kidney dysfunction, inflationary conditions, nervousness and used in the treatment of digestion related conditions like ulcer, vomiting, burning sensation of chest and acidity. Its extracts are also used in treating conditions like headache and tension; acts as an antidepressant and used for conditions like seizures, cold, fever and asthmatic conditions.
It is also used widely in food preparations due to its delicacy and aroma and soft nature in India, China, Taiwan, and Philippines and during festival times as a ritual food. Sweets made out of the Ash Gourd are famous in North India, called 'Petha'. In south it is used in every house hold in daily preparations of Sambhar, Koottu, Salads and Juice.
It has nutritional values as follows according to USDA nutrient database. Each 100gm of Ash Gourd contains, Energy : 13kcal, Fat: '0', Carbohydrates : 3gm, Fiber content: 2.9gm, Protein : 4gm, Vitamin C: 13mg, Riboflavin : 0.1mg, Niacin : 0.4mg, Folate : 5mcg, Pantothenic Acid : 0.1mg, Calcium : 19mg, Iron : 4mg, Magnesium : 10mg, Phosphorous : 19mg, Potassium : 6mg, Sodium : 111mg, Zinc : 0.6mg and Manganese : 0.1mg.
Area, Production and Productivity
Average productivity 75 to 85 tons per acre.