T. occidentalis known as Ugu in Nigeria is traditionally used by an estimated 30 to 35 million people indigenous people in Nigeria, including the Efik, Ibibio, and Urhobo. However, it is predominantly used by the Igbo ethnic group, who continue to cultivate the gourd for food sources and traditional medicines. A recurring subject in the Igbo’s folklore, the fluted gourd is noted to have healing properties and was used as a blood tonic, to be administered to the weak or ill. It is endemic to southern Nigeria, and was an asset to international food trades of the Igbo ethnic group.
T. occidentalis is typically grown vertically on trestle-like structures; however, it can be allowed to spread flat on a field. A beneficial outcome of growing the gourd flat is the suppression of weeds, especially when intercropped with a tall, upright plant such as maize. The growing period begins in April or May when seeds are planted; the first leaves and shoots can be harvested after a month and can be collected every 2–4 weeks thereafter. Seeds are planted directly in the soil, typically in groups of three to increase output in a case of a failed germination. Fruit is typically harvested between October and December. The seeds are subsequently collected and dried; a portion of them are consumed, while the remainder are stored for the following planting season. Although dependent upon soil type, the fluted gourd is able to ratoon and subsequently produce many flushes of fruit over long periods. It is able to ratoon with the highest degree of success in well-drained soils. It is propagated using the seeds. Its seed is housed in another greater covering or hard shell which protects it from harm. It survives drought and can retain its life in the root even after many years. It is a creeping plant and grows well if staked with bamboo sticks