Cucurbita moschata, which encompasses various cultivars of pumpkin and winter squash, is a plant species in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) cultivated in warm areas around the world as food and animal fodder. Popular cultivars include butternut, winter crookneck, and cushaw, and numerous types developed in Japan and China.
The names “winter squash” and “pumpkin” are also applied to the cultivars of C. maxima, C. mixta and C. pepo. Because the common names are used to refer to several different species, and those species may also have other common names, it can be difficult to ascertain which varieties are derived from which species. In the U.S., cultivars with round, orange fruits are generally referred to as pumpkins, while fruits with other shapes and colors are called winter squashes, regardless of the species.
C. moschata likely originated in Mexico and Central America, and was already widely cultivated in North and South America before the arrival of Europeans. Archaeologists have found evidence of C. moschata in Peruvian sites dated from 4,000–3,000 B.C., and in Mexican sites from 1440–400 B.C., suggesting a long history of domestication and cultivation.
C. moschata is better adapted to hot, humid climates than C. pepo and C. maxima, and is resistant to squash vine borers, Melittia cucurbitae, so these varieties are popular for cultivation in the southeastern U.S. A C. moschata variety, the Dickenson field pumpkin, is the dominant source of canned pumpkin (and, therefore, pumpkin pies) in the U.S. However, giant pumpkins, with fruits weighing over 45 kg (100 pounds) come from cultivars of C. maxima.
C. moschata plants are frost-intolerant monoecious annuals. Stems are hairless or soft hairy, trailing or climbing vines growing to 3 meters. Leaves are simple, alternate, and shallowly lobed, often with white spots along the veins. The peduncle (stem that holds the fruit) is five-angled and flares outward where attached to the fruit. Fruits (technically referred to as pepos) are relatively large, with shapes ranging from globose to oblong to flattened. Seeds are 16–20 mm long.
Winter squashes and pumpkins, which are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamin A, are usually eaten as a vegetable, in purees, soups, or pies. Seeds are high in protein, oil, and minerals, and are eaten raw, toasted, or pressed to make oil. Male flowers are coated with breading or batter and made into fritters. In South America, tips of young vines are boiled and eaten.
C. moschata has numerous traditional medicinal uses in South and Central America. Seeds are toasted and eaten to kill worms and other intestinal parasites and used as a diuretic; a preparation from the flowers has been used to treat measles and smallpox. 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 (across all species of Cucurbitaceae) was 22.1 million tons harvested from 1.7 million hectares in 2009, valued at $5.2 billion U.S. dollars. Leading producers were China, Russia, India, the U.S., and Egypt.
(Ecocrop 2011, FAOSTAT 2011, Hui 2006, NRC 1989, Schoenian 2011, Schultes 1990, Whittaker and Davis 1962)
- Ecocrop. 2011. Cucurbita moschata. Online database, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed 18 November 2011 from http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/cropView?id=820.
- 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.
- Hui, Y. H. 2006. "Pumpkins and Squashes." Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering. Vol. 1. CRC Press. p. 20-10. Accessed 28 November 2011 from http://books.google.com/books.
- NRC. 1989. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available online from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=1398.
- 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
Distribution: On roadsides, along trails, and in pastures.
Public forest: Maricao, Piñones, and Río Abajo.
Native of tropical and subtropical America
State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts"
Cucurbita moschata Duchesne ex Poir., Dict. Sci. Nat. 11: 234. 1818.
Herbaceous vine, creeping or climbing by axillary tendrils, 5-10 m in length. Stems branched from the base and along the main stems, flexible, angular, pubescent with soft or slightly rigid hairs, elongate, not pungent; tendrils with 4 branches, pilose, shorter than the petiole. Leaves alternate; blades 15-25 × 15-25 cm, broadly ovate, slightly lobed, the lobes obtuse, the apex obtuse, the base cordiform or hastate, the margins finely serrate; upper surface puberulous, usually with irregular whitish spots; lower surface shortpubescent, with prominent venation; petioles 11-39 cm long, striate, puberulous to densely pubescent, with unicelular hairs intermingled with multicellular trichomes. Flowers solitary; calyx campanulate, yellowish green, 3.5-4 cm long, hirsute, the lobes linear to oblong, 2.5-3 cm long; corolla brilliant yellow, campanulate, 7-9 cm long, the lobes obtuse, revolute; peduncle thick, angular, sulcate. Berry variable, soft or hard, depressedglobose to globose, green, turning yellowish when ripe, 25-30 cm long; mesocarp orange, fleshy, thick; seeds numerous, elliptical, 1.5-2 cm long, cream-colored to light brown.
Phenology: Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.
Status: Exotic, cultivated and naturalized, common.
Commentary: In Puerto Rico two other species of Cucurbita (C. pepo L. and C. maxima Duchesne ex Lam.) have been reported; nevertheless, these are rarely cultivated and are not found naturalized in Puerto Rico (pers. comm. Dr. Linda Beaver, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus).
Life History and Behavior
Evolution and Systematics
Skin of pumpkins helps protect them from fungal pathogens using unique antifungal proteins.
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Park SC; Kim JY; Lee JK; Hwang I; Cheong H; Nah JW; Hahm KS; Park Y. 2009. Antifungal mechanism of a novel antifungal protein from pumpkin rinds against various fungal pathogens. J Agric Food Chem. 57(19): 9299-304.
- 2009. Pumpkin skin may scare away germs. EurekAlert! [Internet],
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Cucurbita moschata
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cucurbita moschata
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Folk medicine
Production Methods: Cultivated
Comments: Similar to the uses of C. pepo. In Mexico, the seeds are given with castor oil as an anthelmintic. The seed oil is applied to persistent ulcers in Venezuela, and a decoction of the flowers has been used to treat measles and small pox. Colombians report that a root infusion is febrifugal and also is applied to syphilitic ulcers. The seeds are said to be excellent vermifuges and taenifuges and the fruits are diuretic.
Cucurbita moschata is a species originating in either Central America or northern South America. It includes cultivars of squash and pumpkin. C. moschata cultivars are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather than cultivars of C. maxima or C. pepo. They also generally display a greater resistance to disease and insects, especially to the squash vine borer. Commercially made pumpkin pie mix is most often made from varieties of C. moschata. The ancestral species of the genus Cucurbita were present in the Americas before the arrival of humans. Evolutionarily speaking the genus is relatively recent in origin as no species within the genus is genetically isolated from all the other species. C. moschata acts as the genetic bridge within the genus and is closest to the genus' progenitor. Cultivars include:
'Butternut' type, also "Bell" type. Robinson and Decker-Walters (1997) p. 80: "Three horticultural groupings of C. moschata cultivars are recognized in the commercial trade of North America: (...) Bell. Fruit bell-shaped to almost cylindrical." "The bell squash 'Butternut' is an important winter squash with excellent quality. It was selected for better fruit shape from the heirloom cultivar 'Canada Crookneck' and introduced by the Breck Seed Company in 1936. The elongated neck of the buff-coloured 'Butternut' fruit is generally straight but occasionally curved. The neck is entirely usable because the small seed cavity is confined to the bulbous base of the fruit. 'Waltham Butternut' is similar, but produces a higher proportion of fruits with straight necks. It was obtained by crossing 'New Hampshire Butternut' with an African plant introduction to the USA, and has been a very popular cultivar ever since its commercial introduction in 1970".
Cucurbita moschata Crookneck type. Similar to 'Butternut' with an elongated neck that twistes during cultivation. Cultives belonging to this group: in USA 'Neck pumpkin' and 'Pennsilvannia Dutch Crookneck' (upper photograph), in Italy and France 'Tromba d' Albenga', 'Tromboncino' (bottom photograph). 'Neck pumpkin' most popular in the Mid-Atlantic states of the United States, particularly in areas with an Amish influence. Also within this group 'Canada Crookneck' from which 'Butternut' was originated.
37 lb 'Long of Naples' squash. Belonging to Crookneck group.
A 'Long Island Cheese' Pumpkin - exterior resembles a wheel of cheese in shape, color, and texture. Robinson and Decker-Walters (1997) p. 80: "Three horticultural groupings of Cucurbita moschata cultivars are recognized in the commercial trade of North America: (..) Cheese. Fruit variable, but usually oblate with a buff-coloured rind."
Cucurbita moschata "Musquée de Provence" or "Moscata di Provenza". Belonging to Cheese group.
- Cucurbita moschata 'Golden Cushaw'. Similar shape but a different species than the most common Cucurbita argyrosperma "cushaw" type.
- Dickinson field pumpkin - 'Libby's Select' uses the Select Dickinson Pumpkin variety of C. moschata for its canned pumpkins
- Kentucky field pumpkin
- Calabaza - a commonly grown squash in Cuba and Puerto Rico
- Seminole pumpkin - a squash cultivated by the Seminole Indians of Florida
- "Loche", a group of landraces in Peru. A very concentrated and expensive squash used for flavoring. 
- The Plant List, Cucurbita moschata
- Hui, Yiu H. (2006). "Pumpkins and Squashes". Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering 1. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 20-10. Retrieved 21 Dec 2010.
- Whitaker, Thomas W.; Bemis, W. P. (1975). "Origin and Evolution of the Cultivated Cucurbita". Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club (New York: Torrey Botanical Society) 102 (6): 362–368. doi:10.2307/2484762. JSTOR 2484762.
- Robinson, R. W.; Decker-Walters, D. S. 1997. Cucurbits. CAB INTERNATIONAL.
- Elisa Ludwig (19 November 2009). "Pumpkin Can Be So Much More Than Pie". The Inquirer. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- "Zucchetta". Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center: Vegetable Research and Extension. Washington State University. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- West-Duran, Alan (2003). African Caribbeans: a reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-313-31240-0.
- Andres TC, R Ugás, F Bustamante. 2006. Loche: A unique pre-Columbian squash locally grown in North Coastal Peru. In: Proceedings of Cucurbitaceae 2006. G.J. Holmes (eds.) Universal Press, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. pp. 333-340. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/237805567_Loche_a_Unique_Pre-Columbian_Squash_Locally_Grown_in_North_Coastal_Peru
Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), also known in Australia and New Zealand as Butternut pumpkin, is a type of winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine. The most popular variety, the Waltham Butternut, originated in Stow, Massachusetts.
In Australia it is regarded as a pumpkin, and used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin.
It is also commonly used in South Africa. It is often used in soup or can be cooked on a grill. Grilled butternut is normally either seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon or the de-seeded centre stuffed with other vegetables for example Spinach and Feta before wrapped in foil and then grilled. The grilled butternut is often served as a side dish to “braai's” (barbecues) and the soup as a starter dish.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Cucurbita moschata|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||188 kJ (45 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.0 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||532 μg (59%)|
|- beta-carotene||4226 μg (39%)|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||.10 mg (8%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||.02 mg (1%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||1.20 mg (8%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||.40 mg (8%)|
|Vitamin B6||.154 mg (12%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||27 μg (7%)|
|Vitamin C||21.0 mg (35%)|
|Calcium||48 mg (5%)|
|Iron||.70 mg (6%)|
|Magnesium||34 mg (9%)|
|Phosphorus||33 mg (5%)|
|Potassium||352 mg (7%)|
|Zinc||.15 mg (1%)|
|Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Preparation, precautions, allergic reactions
The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted. One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. To do this, the squash is cut in half lengthwise, lightly brushed with cooking oil, and placed cut side down on a baking sheet. It is then baked for 45 minutes or until it is softened. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways as outlined above. 
- ^ "Butternut Squash". Veg Box Recipes. 2008. http://vegbox-recipes.co.uk/ingredients/butternut-squash.php. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
- ^ "Mashed Butternut Squash". theveggielife.com recipes. 2009. http://www.theveggielife.com/mashed-butternut-squash.html. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
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