Pumpkins Squashes and Gourds !!!!

 

Cucurbita (Latin for gourd) is a genus of herbaceous vines native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. They are grown worldwide for their edible fruit and seeds.  We grow many of these in our customers rooftop gardens!

 

A large variety of related Cucurbita

 

The Flowers

 

The yellow or orange flowers on a Cucurbita plant are of two types: female or male. The female flowers produce the fruit and the male flowers produce the pollen.  Many of the male flowers are picked and eaten stuffed or fried.

 

Male flowers

 

Female flowers – notice the immature unfertilized pumpkin at the base !

 

The cultivars

 

The five domesticated species are Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. ficifolia, C. maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo. All of these can be treated as winter squash because the full-grown fruits can be stored for months. 

That said, C. pepo has some cultivars that are used as summer squash (Zucchini). It also includes the bumpy looking ornamental ones that are pretty much inedible.



Edible and very common butternut squash


Domestication

 

Archaeological investigations have found evidence of domestication of Cucurbita going back over 8,000 years.  Excavations showed them present from the very southern parts of Canada down to Argentina and Chile.

It has been present as a food crop in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Peru for 4,000–6,000 years.  It also spread to Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A variety known as the Seminole Pumpkin had been cultivated in Florida since before the arrival of Columbus.

 

Some pumpkin cultivars are grown for their super size !

 

African gourds

 

Other kinds of gourds called bottle-gourds are native to Africa.  These belong to the genus Lagenaria, which is related but different.

They are mostly inedible and are used as utensils or vessels because of their extreme hard and durable skin when they dry. However, when young, their fruits are eaten much like those of Cucurbita species.

Goose neck or bottle neck gourd 

 

 

If you want to grow some in your garden – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

Our gardeners can plant some for you next spring !

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !

 

 

GREENING NEW YORK FOR OVER 51 YEARS !

 

 

 

Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK