Cucurbita maxima, winter squash, pumpkin, calabaza, or marrow, is a species in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) native to South America and cultivated by indigenous people for over 2,000 years but now cultivated in warm areas worldwide commercially and in home gardens as food and animal fodder and for oil from the seeds. C. maxima is the source of many varieties of winter squash (including Acorn, Banana, Buttercup, Kabocha, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and Lakota), as well as giant pumpkin varieties (those that weigh over 45 kg [100 pounds]).
Related cultivated species also known as squash or pumpkins are C. pepo (summer squash, also called marrow), and C. mixta and C. moschata (both of which are also known as pumpkin or winter squash). It can be difficult to ascertain which varieties are derived from which species, because the names “winter squash” and “pumpkin” are used to refer to several different species, and those species may also have other common names.
C. maxima plants are frost-intolerant annual herbaceous plants. The stems, more or less prickly, are generally trailing or climbing vines, with tendrils that allow that allow them to clasp supports. Leaves are simple, alternate, and shallowly to deeply lobed. Fruits (technically referred to as pepos) are relatively large and usually require a long growing season for development.
Winter squashes come in many forms, sizes, and colors—Cucurbita in general and this species in particular may have the largest variability of any horticultural crop. Fruits may be globose, oblong or elongate, cylindrical, or even flattened, and some forms have crooked or elongated necks. They range from the size of a plum to pumpkins weighing over 450 kg (1000 pounds). Rind colors vary from white to cream to yellow to orange to green; some cultivars have variegated fruits. The surface of the fruit may be smooth, scalloped, ridged, or warty. Rinds are harder than those of summer squashes (C. pepo) and are generally not eaten. Winter squashes can be stored for several months after harvest if kept dry and cool (but above freezing).
Winter squashes are eaten as a vegetable, mashed or in purees, soups, or pies. The blossoms are also edible, and may be cooked into fritters. Seeds are high in protein and minerals, and are eaten raw, toasted, or pressed to make oil. In South and Central America, seeds are toasted and eaten to kill worms and other intestinal parasites. Pumpkin seeds are sometimes used as a natural worming agent for sheep and goats by organic farmers, but their efficacy has not been clearly demonstrated.
World production of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds in 2009 was 22.1 million tons harvested from 1.7 million hectares, valued at $5.2 billion U.S. dollars. Leading producers were China, Russia, India, the U.S., and Egypt.
The Guinness World Record for the world’s largest pumpkin ever was earned in 2010, by a Wisconsin pumpkin weighing 821.23 kg (1,810 lb 8 oz); see (YouTube video ). A similar pumpkin was carved into the world’s largest jack-o-lantern at New York Botanical Garden in 2011 in this YouTube clip.
(ECPGR 2008, Encyclopedia Britannica 1993, FAOSTAT 2011, GuinessWorldRecords.com 2011, Schoenian 2011, Schultes 1990, Whittaker and Davis 1962)
- ECPGR. 2008. ￼Minimum descriptors for Cucurbita spp., cucumber, melon and watermelon.
- European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), Working Group on Cucurbits. Accessed 28 November 2011 from http://www.ecpgr.cgiar.org/fileadmin/www.ecpgr.cgiar.org/NW_and_WG_UPLOADS/Cucurbits_DescriptorLists.pdf.
- Encyclopedia Britannica. 1993. “Squash.” Micropedia Vol. 11: 185. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
- FAOSTAT. 2011. FAOSTAT 2011. Searchable online database from Food and Agriculture Division of the United Nations. Retrieved 20 November 2011 from http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/default.aspx#ancor.
- GuinnessWorldRecords. 2011. “Heaviest pumpkin.” Accessed 22 November 2011 from http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-1/heaviest-pumpkin/.
- Schoenian, S. 2011. Small ruminant information sheet: Marketing claims for sheep and goats. University of Maryland Extension Service. Accessed 22 November 2011 from http://www.sheepandgoat.com/articles/marketingclaims.html.
- Schultes, R.E. 1990. “Biodynamic cucurbits in the New World tropics.” In Bates, D.M., R.W. Robinson, and C. Jeffrey, eds. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Pp. 307–324.
- Whittaker, T.S., and G.N. Davis. 1962. Cucurbits: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. 1962. New York: Interscience Publishers. 249 p.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Cosmopolitan, mostly cultivated
State - Kerala, District/s: Kozhikkode"
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Cucurbita maxima
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cucurbita maxima
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: FOOD, Fruit, MEDICINE/DRUG, Folk medicine
Comments: Cultivated as a food crop, but also has medicinal properties in the American tropics. In Colombia, the seeds are toasted and eaten as an apparently effective vermifuge. Also, in Mexico the seeds are used in a water extract against taenia and worms.
Kabocha (katakana: カボチャ) is a Japanese variety of winter squash. The word kabocha has come to mean a general type of winter squash to many English-speaking growers and buyers. In some cultures it is revered as an aphrodisiac.
Kabocha is commonly called Japanese pumpkin, especially in Australia and New Zealand. In Thailand, it is called Fak Thong (Thai: ฟักทอง or golden squash) and is also called kabocha squash in North America. In Japan, the word kabocha may refer to either this squash or to the Western-style pumpkin.
Varieties include: Ajihei, Ajehei No. 107, Ajihei No. 331, Ajihei No. 335, Cutie, Ebisu, Emiguri, and Miyako.
Today many of the kabocha in the market are of the type called Kuri kabocha, which was created based on Seiyo kabocha (buttercup squash). It's popular for its strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture, which is like chestnuts. It's found in the market under such brand names as Miyako, Ebisu, Kurokawa, Akazukin, etc.
Kabocha is hard, has knobbly-looking skin, is shaped like a squatty pumpkin, and has a dull finished deep green skin with some celadon-to-white stripes and an intense yellow-orange color on the inside. In many respects it is similar to the Buttercup squash, but without the characteristic cup on the blossom end. It is a member of the species Cucurbita maxima, along with the Hubbard and Buttercup squashes.
An average kabocha weighs 2-3 pounds but can weigh as much as 8 pounds.
It has an exceptional naturally sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. It is similar in texture and flavor to a pumpkin and a sweet potato combined. Some can taste like Russet potatoes. Like other squash-family members, it is commonly mixed in side dishes and soups or anywhere pumpkin, potato, or other squash would be. It is a common ingredient in vegetable tempura and can be made into soup. Kabocha (in Thai "ฟักทอง") is used in traditional Thai desserts and main courses.
Kabocha is available all year round but is best in late summer and early fall.
Primarily grown in Japan, Thailand, California, Florida, Southwestern Colorado, Mexico, Tasmania, Tonga, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa but is widely adapted for climates that provide a growing season of 100 days or more. Most of the California, Colorado, Tonga and New Zealand crop is exported to Japan.
When kabocha is just harvested, it is still growing. Therefore, unlike other vegetables and fruits, freshness is not as important. It should be fully matured first, in order to become flavorful. First, kabocha is ripened in a warm place (77°F) for 13 days, during which some of the starch converts to carbohydrate content. Then it is transferred to a cool place (50°F) and stored for about a month in order to increase its carbohydrate content. In this way the just-harvested, dry, bland-tasting kabocha is transformed into smooth, sweet kabocha. Fully ripened, succulent kabocha will have reddish-yellow flesh and a hard skin with a dry, corky stem. It reaches the peak of ripeness about 1.5–3 months after it is harvested.
It is generally believed that all squash originated in Mesoamerica, but may have been independently cultivated elsewhere, albeit later. The kabocha, however, was introduced to Japan by Portuguese sailors in 1541, who brought it with them from Cambodia. The Portuguese name for the squash, Cambodia abóbora (カンボジャ・アボボラ), was shortened by the Japanese to kabocha. Certain regions of Japan use an alternate abbreviation, shortening the second half of the name instead to "bobora".
- ^ Aphrodisiacs Fact or Fiction
- ^ kabocha squash Definition in the Food Dictionary at Epicurious.com
- ^ Japanese Kabocha - Japanese Pumpkin - Kabocha Squash, About.com
- ^ Archaeobiology: Squash Seeds Yield New View of Early American Farming
- ^ The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago
- ^ Eastern North America as an independent center of plant domestication
Cucurbita maxima, one of at least five species of cultivated squash, is one of the most diverse domesticated species, perhaps with more cultivated forms than any other crop. This species originated in South America from the wild C. maxima ssp. andreana over 4000 years ago. The two species hybridize quite readily but have noticeably different calcium levels. Different squash types of this species were introduced into North America as early as the 16th century. By the American Revolution, the species was in cultivation by Native American tribes throughout the present-day United States. By the early 19th century, at least three varieties are known to have been commercially introduced in North America from seeds obtained from Native Americans. Secondary centers of diversity include India, Bangladesh, Burma, and possibly the southern Appalachians. The large red-orange squashes often seen at Halloween in the United States are C. maxima, but not to be confused with the orange type used for jack-o-lanterns, which are C. pepo.
Arikara squash is an heirloom variety of C. maxima. Fruits weigh from four to eleven pounds. The shape of the fruit can be tear-drop or round, and they are colored in a mottled orange and green pattern. It is desired both for its eating qualities and as a seasonal decoration. This variety traces its ancestry to the Arikara tribe of the Dakotas, among whom its cultivation predates white settlement.
Banana squash has an elongated shape, with light blue, pink or orange skin and bright orange flesh.
Boston marrow sweet tasting, narrow at one end and bulbous at the other.
Buttercup squash is one of the most common varieties of this winter squash, with a turban shape (a flattish top and dark green skin), weighing three to five pounds, and normally heavy with dense, yellow-orange flesh.
The Candy Roaster landrace was originally developed by the Cherokee people in the southern Appalachians. Another heirloom variety, it is quite variable in size (10-250+ lbs), shape (round, cylindrical, teardrop, blocky, etc.), and color (pink, tan, green, blue, gray, or orange), yet most have fine-textured orange flesh. This variety enjoys continued popularity, particularly in the southern Appalachians.
Hubbard squash is another cultivar of this species that usually has a tear-drop shape. They are often used as a replacement for pumpkins in cooking. According to one source, the name comes from Bela Hubbard, settler of Randolph Township, Ohio in the Connecticut Western Reserve. Many other sources list an alternate history. These sources state the hubbard squash (at the time nameless) came to Marblehead, Massachusetts through Captain Knott Martin. A woman named Elizabeth Hubbard brought the fruit to the attention of her neighbor, a seed trader named James J. H. Gregory. Mr. Gregory subsequently introduced it to the market using Mrs. Hubbard's name as the eponym. Gregory later bred and released the blue hubbard, which has a bluish-gray skin. The other major variety, the golden hubbard squash, has a bright orange skin. Gregory advertisements for the squash date from at least 1859. The hubbard squash, including questions regarding the name, is even the subject of a children's ditty, "Raising Hubbard Squash in Vermont".
Jarrahdale pumpkin is a pumpkin with gray skin. It is nearly identical to 'Queensland Blue' and 'Sweet Meat' varieties.
Kabocha is a Japanese variety.
Lakota squash is an American variety.
Subspecies, cultivars and varieties
The Systax database at the University of Ulm lists the following subspecies:
- Cucurbita maxima Duchesne (including variety 'Queensland Blue' et al.)
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. andreana (Naudin) Filov
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima (including varieties 'Golden Delicious', 'Hubbard Squash', et al.)
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima convar. bananina Grebensc.
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima convar. hubardiana Grebensc. (including variety 'Golden Delicious', 'Green Hubbard', 'Hubbard's Squash', 'Yellow Hubbard' et al.)
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima convar. zapallitina Grebensc. (includes typical cultivated form of summer squash "zapallito" popular in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Brasil)
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima convar. maxima (including varieties 'Hokkaido', 'Red Hokkaido', 'Red Kuri', 'Sweet Meat' et al.)
- C. maxima Duchesne ssp. maxima convar. turbaniformis (M.Roem.) Alef.
- Systax database at the University of Ulm accessed 11 Sep 2010
- The Plant List, Cucurbita maxima
- Esquinas-Alcazar, J.T. and P.J. Gulick. 1983. Genetic resources of Cucurbitaceae: A global report. 1st ed. Intl. Board Plant Genet. Resour., IBPGR. Rome, Italy.
- Sanjur, Oris I.; Piperno, Dolores R.; Andres, Thomas C.; Wessel-Beaver, Linda (2002). "Phylogenetic Relationships among Domesticated and Wild Species of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae) Inferred from a Mitochondrial Gene: Implications for Crop Plant Evolution and Areas of Origin" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences) 99 (1): 535–540. JSTOR 3057572.
- Skilnyk, Hilary R.; Lott, John N. A. (1992). "Mineral analyses of storage reserves of Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita andreana pollen". Canadian Journal of Botany 70 (3): 491–495. doi:10.1139/b92-063.
- Nee, Michael (1990). "The Domestication of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae)". Economic Botany (New York: New York Botanical Gardens Press) 44 (3, Supplement: New Perspectives on the Origin and Evolution of New World Domesticated Plants): 56–68. doi:10.2307/4255271. JSTOR 4255271.
- "Boston Marrow Squash". Rare Seeds. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- Troyer, Loris C.: "Portage Pathways" p. 8, Kent State University Press, 1998
- Watson, Ben: "Taylor's Guides to Heirloom Vegetables: A Complete Guide to the Best Historic and Ethnic Varieties" p. 268, 1996
- "James J. H. Gregory: A Timeline of his Life", Worrell, Shari Kelley with Norma Lovett Gregory Kelley Flude, Victory Horticultural Library, SaveSeeds.org
- The Horticulturalist Advertiser, May 1859, p.4 in The Horticulturist, and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste Volume 14
- Cady, Daniel Leavens. Rhymes of Vermont Rural Life , Vermont:The Tuttle company, 1919 p. 100
- World Record Achievements. GiantPumpkin.com.
- Díaz, Obregón D.; Lloja, Lozano L.; Carbajal, Zúñiga V. (2004). "Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas". Revista de Gastroenterologia del Perú (in Spanish) 24 (4): 323–327. PMID 15614300.
- Millán, R. 1945. Variaciones el zapallito amargo Cucurbita andreana y el origen de Cucurbita maxima. Rev. Arg. de Agron. 12:86-93.
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