Pumpkins and Squash

(Cucurbita pepo) and related species

Pumpkins and Squash are native to the Americas, and have been cultivated there for thousands of years. There are three species used commonly for food:

  • Cucurbita pepo must be one of the oldest domesticated food crop species. The first traces these plants may be 10 000 years old, found in Oaxaca, Mexico. It has many varieties in wildly different shapes, colours and sizes: pumpkins, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash, marrows, courgette, and many more. The tender growing shoots and flowers are also eaten.
  • Cucurbita moschata came from South or Central America. The most familiar cultivars in Europe are butternut squash and “tromboncino”.
  • Cucurbita maxima has been grown in South America for thousands of years. Some familiar cultivars are buttercup (not butternut) squash and hubbard squash.