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The plant is less well known as a traditional medicine. A drink made from the fruit pulp is still recorded (on islands such as Aruba) as a remedy for colds and flu.
The calabash's large hard-cased fruit, known as a gourd, is the most useful part of the tree. Hollowed out, they are made into containers of different sizes, from drinking cups to large bowls.
They are also used for making musical instruments, especially the maracas. The hollow gourds are filled with pebbles or hard seeds that rattle when shaken. Invented by the Taino, they were later taken up by plantation slaves.
Taino hunters cut eye holes in gourds and put them on over their heads before wading into water to hunt birds. The birds saw no danger in what looked like floating gourds, so the hunters could get close enough to catch them.