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Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin)

A vine native to Mexico and the USA, Cucurbita pepo has been domesticated for thousands of years and is the source of an astonishing variety of cultivated forms, including Halloween pumpkins, courgettes (zucchini) and squashes.
The round, richly coloured Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) fruit

Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) fruit

Species information

Scientific name: 

Cucurbita pepo L.

Common name: 

pumpkin, summer squash, autumn squash, marrow, zucchini, courgette, crookneck, pattypan, scallop squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, pomion, ornamental gourd

Conservation status: 

Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread in cultivation.

Habitat: 

Upland, seasonally dry thorn scrub or alluvial land near rivers.

Key Uses: 

Food, ornamental, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

Stems and leaves of many cultivars bear fine prickles.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Rosanae
Order: 
Cucurbitales
Family: 
Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita

About this species

Cucurbita pepo has been cultivated for its edible fruits for thousands of years and remains a crop plant of great economic importance today. An extensive range of cultivars is available, including those grown to produce fruits for Halloween lanterns and pumpkin pies, courgettes (zucchinis), marrows, many types of squashes and ornamental gourds. It is important to note that the common names pumpkin and squash are used for more than one species of plant. For example the fruits of some cultivated forms of Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata and C. argyrosperma are also sometimes known as pumpkins and squashes.

Three subspecies are recognised:

  • Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo (known only in cultivation)
  • Cucurbita pepo subsp. texana (known in cultivation and in the wild in southeastern USA)
  • Cucurbita pepo subsp. fraterna (known only in the wild in northeastern Mexico)
Synonym: 

Cucumis pepo (L.) Dumort.

Genus: 
Cucurbita

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