Carew, H. John Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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The term commonly applied to the larger, orange-colored fruit of the Cucurbita species, used when ripe as a table vegetable, in pies, or for autumn decoration. Pumpkins, which grow on prickly vines with large lobed leaves and yellow flowers, belong to the family Cucurbitaceae in the order Cucurbitales; they were formerly included in the order Violales. Pumpkins tend to be round with an orange exterior color and a firm rind (see illustration). The flesh is somewhat coarse, fibrous, and strongly flavored. As it is less sweet in comparison to the flesh of squash, it is generally not served as a baked vegetable. Although some taxonomists would restrict the term pumpkin to the species C. pepo and C. moschata, it also can refer to C. mixta (also known as C. argyrosperma) and C. maxima. Popular cultivated varieties (cultivars) are Connecticut Field and Small Sugar. Canned pumpkin is usually made from a blend of pumpkins and winter squashes. Cultural practices are similar to those used for squash. Harvesting generally begins when the fruits are mature, usually 4 months after planting. Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, and New Jersey are important producing regions in the United States. See also: Horticultural crops; Squash; Violales
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